Human Factors in Automated Driving


Automated driving will fundamentally change road transportation. But the role of humans and human-system interaction need to be clearly established to ensure a smooth ride.  

Automated driving technology has the potential to fundamentally change road transportation and improve quality of life. If set on the right track, automated vehicles (AVs) could reduce accidents caused by human errors, increase traffic flow efficiency, increase comfort by allowing the driver to perform alternative tasks, and ensure mobility for all, including old and impaired individuals.

However, along this accelerating evolution of road vehicle automation, human factors researchers have long warned that the mere fact that you can automate does not mean that you should. In an interview with 12 human factors (HF) researchers involved in automated driving research, they stressed that any automated system that removes the human from the driving task, yet requires the human to monitor and supervise the system and regain control where necessary, could be unsafe. Can humans easily and safely switch roles between driver and supervisor?

Looking into the future, most researchers believe that fully autonomous vehicles would only operate at low speeds on dedicated lanes in specific scenarios in the near future. They agreed that human factor challenges need to be resolved prior to the deployment of AVs on public roads. Against this wisdom, industry is in fact close to introducing Level 3 and Level 4 AVs on public roads. A recent study even suggests that the public expects full (level 5) automation in more than 50% of vehicles by around 2030.

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