Semi-automated cars are increasingly becoming common but can pose a danger when technology fails and drivers don’t intervene.
Research undertaken at Old Dominion University and Rice University finds that simple verbal prompts, such as asking calendar month of the year help drivers maintain attention for semi-automated cars.
The research is published in the journal Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. The finding is the outcome of the interest of the lead researcher to learn more about how to make semi-automated driving safer with fewer accidents.
Knowing from recent automated driving tragedies, the technology is not always failsafe at detecting dangerous situations, including objects on the road, stated the senior author of the study. “Detecting the hazards and reacting in a safe way is sometimes more difficult for automation.”
Giving reference to one of the recent studies, the researcher demonstrated that human users do not comprehend how computer vision can be easily deceived. This involved citing an example of how carefully crafted stickers put along road signs can be mislabeled as critical to safety. Consequently, this would require a human driver to make up for limitations and assist or completely take over control of the vehicle.
The study involved the participation of 117 students from Dominion in a partially automated, simulated driving assignment. The researchers learned drivers’ attention was reduced over the 45-minute task, but asking 8 simple questions during the course of the task increased attention significantly, demonstrated by faster and improved responses to hazards.
Improved attention helps drivers to look out for hazards or take over control of the automated driving system, which can help prevent accidents, stated the senior author of the study