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Persuasive Electric Vehicle

This is a Persuasive Electric Vehicle. It was designed by MIT Media Lab, City Science. It is dated 2014. Its medium is bicycle components, electric motor, sensors. It is a part of the department.

The Persuasive Electric Vehicle (PEV) is a low-cost, shared-use vehicle designed for autonomous on-demand package delivery and electric-assisted passenger commutes. Designed as a sustainable alternative transportation method, this experimental vehicle was created by MIT’s Media Lab to explore ways to establish awareness, trust, and empathy between the PEV, pedestrians, and others on the street. Lights and mechanical eye contact enable mutual recognition of each other’s presence, while computer vision and machine learning help the PEV learn to be more empathetic to human emotional states.


On the monitor above, watch what the PEV autonomous vehicle (AV) sees. The PEV’s LiDAR—a pulsing laser light that senses and measures distances to an object—detects and maps its surrounding physical environment for safe navigation.

Zone Diagram
Digital print


AWARENESS: Object Detection Zone
Continuous tracking of the location of people and objects surrounding an autonomous vehicle is critical to safety and navigation. The PEV uses LiDAR to maintain a real-time view of its surroundings and to determine its path and prevent collisions.

TRUST: Eye Contact Zone
Right of way between pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists is typically determined by first acknowledging the presence of the other. Similarly, PEV uses a webcam, computer vision, and eye contact to establish a basic level of trust required for negotiating safe street interactions.

EMPATHY: Emotion Contact Zone
Understanding human emotions is key to future machine-human cohabitation. Using a webcam and computer vision, the PEV can determine facial expressions, which will eventually lead to more natural, social and intuitive interactions with people.

It is credited Courtesy of MIT Media Lab.

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition The Road Ahead: Reimagining Mobility.

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Persuasive Electric Vehicle |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=1 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>