John Gaspar
The University of Iowa
Driving Safety Research Institute
Anuj K. Pradhan
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Cara Hamann
The University of Iowa
College of Public Health
Zhaomiao Guo
University of Central Florida
Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering
Kelvin Santiago
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Shannon Roberts
University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Final Report Summary

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Understanding of advanced vehicle technology: The role of system exposure and perceptions of other road users

New automated technologies are becoming increasingly available in passenger vehicles. These complex systems, while offering new safety and convenience features, change the nature of driving— including the nature of driving responsibilities. Importantly, drivers need to understand the purpose, capabilities and limitations of these systems in order to utilize and interact with them appropriately. Drivers’ understanding of these systems is sometimes referred to as their mental model of the automated system. Misunderstandings can lead to unintended—and potentially safety-critical—consequences.
Previous research by the AAA Foundation has helped identify gaps in users’ knowledge and understanding of currently available advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). The current (Year 1) cooperative research project between SAFER-SIM and AAAFTS, The Impact of Driver’s Mental Models of Advanced Vehicle Technologies on Safety and Performance, is comprised of two tasks. The first is being led by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and involves a review of the literature and technical documentation for automated vehicle technology and the development of a taxonomy of the potential types and categories of errors that can arise because of poor or insufficient mental models. The second task, led by the University of Iowa, involves a driving simulator study that examines how the quality of a driver’s mental model of automated technology impacts their safety, performance and use of the system, especially in edge case scenarios.
In Year 2, we plan to continue to develop our understanding of driver mental models of advanced vehicle technologies, building on and complementing the Year 1 activities. This project will aim to address the following important questions related to the longer-term development of mental models as well as how intermittent system changes impact drivers’ experiences.
• How does longer-term exposure to AV or ADAS technology affect a driver’s mental model, including an assessment of users’ long-term adaptation to systems?
• What is the impact of intermittent system changes (e.g., through over-the-air updates to the software)?
• How do mental models vary across different vulnerable road user groups, including older or inexperienced drivers? This can also include non-drivers. For example, how do the mental models of other road users impact vehicle-road user interactions?