What’s big, orange and covered in LEDs? This start-up’s new approach to self-driving cars

From the outside, many driverless vehicles now on American roads look a lot like their conventional, human-driven counterparts.

But one self-driving vehicle being tested as part of a new pilot program in Texas is designed not to blend in but to stand out — and in a big way. Its bright orange exterior is emblazoned with the words “Self-Driving Vehicle,” and it features billboard-like LED displays that alert nearby motorists and pedestrians with heads-up messages like “going now, don’t cross” and “waiting for you.”

“We want people to know that they’re around a self-driving vehicle, which by its nature does not behave like a human driver,” Bijit Halder, the product development and deployment lead for Drive.ai, the Mountain View, California, firm that developed the heavily modified Nissan NV200 vans, told NBC News MACH in an email. “That’s why we deliberately chose to make our vehicles bright orange; we want them to stand out.”