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Humans and the Machine - Considerations for Operation of Current Market “Automated Vehicles”

by Australian Road Research Board on November 27, 2017

With the approaching dawn of driverless vehicles, the automotive industry is readying the public market through “incremental” introductions of new and evolving driver assistance and safety features. However, as vehicles become equipped with more and more of these features, there is an increased demand on the driver to adapt a new and different driving style; having to learn, operate and interact with the technology.

ARRB, on behalf of VicRoads, has been working on understanding the capabilities and functions of current market Automated Vehicles (AVs) to assess how these assistance features will impact the road network. In evaluation of the features, qualitative trialling of available vehicles was undertaken on Melbourne’s Eastlink, with the driver and passengers taking note of a range of performance aspects. Some of what was noted included the presentation of the Human-Machine Interface (HMI), involving aspects such as:

  • How intuitive are the features to use (i.e. to engage/disengage) and understand?
  • How much confidence does it instil in the driver?

In terms of these aspects, substantial variation between manufacturers was noted, with even the naming of some features changing between brands.

During the trialling, the HMIs in each vehicle presented instances where features, warnings and vehicle function were intuitive, user-friendly and would inspire driver confidence, as well as instances where the converse was true. The introduction of these new features alongside customisable settings, presented an array of potential HMI issues, most of which stem from the new requirements on the driver to take in a multitude of new information (alert tones, display icons, operation of new features, etc.), alongside maintaining safe operation of their vehicle and continually monitoring the driving environment.

The project has so far helped us understand that, once the correct settings are found and adjusted to the desires of the operator, the features generally allow the driver to feel confident in the behaviour of their vehicle. However, HMIs in most current vehicles, whilst faring well, still have room for improvement to ensure smooth adaption of driving styles and ease of comprehension of in-vehicle information for the driver.

The continued works in this project will look at other interactions with the vehicle, such as how the AVs interact with current infrastructure, as well as exploring and testing connectivity interactions of the AVs with infrastructure through use of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS).

 For further information on the trials, please contact danielle.berry@arrb.com.au



ARRB has been working with project partners ConnectEast and LaTrobe University, all of whom are grateful for the invaluable in-kind contribution of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Audi, Honda, Toyota/Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Volvo in providing loan vehicles for trialling on Eastlink.


Topics: Research