Assessing Alternate Approaches for Conveying Automated Vehicle Intentions
Objectives: Research suggests the general public has a lack of faith in highly automated vehicles (HAV) stems from a lack of system transparency while in motion (e.g., the user not being informed on roadway perception or anticipated responses of the car in certain situations). This problem is particularly prevalent in public transit or ridesharing applications, where HAVs are expected to debut, and when the user has minimal training on, and control over, the vehicle. To improve user trust and their perception of comfort and safety, this study aimed to develop more detailed and tailored human-machine interfaces (HMI) aimed at relying automated vehicle intended actions (i.e., "intentions") and perceptions of the driving environment to the user.
Methods: This project developed HMI systems, with a focus on visual and auditory displays, and implemented them into a HAV developed at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). Volunteer participants were invited to the Smart Roads at VTTI to experience these systems in real-world driving scenarios, especially ones typically found in rideshare or public transit operations. Participant responses and opinions about the HMIs and their perceived levels of comfort, safety, trust, and situational awareness were captured via paper-based surveys administered during experimentation.
Results: There was a considerable link found between HMI modality and users' reported levels of comfort, safety, trust, and situational awareness during experimentation. In addition, there were several key behavioral factors that made users more or less likely to feel comfortable in the HAV.
Conclusions: Moving forward, it will be necessary for HAVs to provide ample feedback to users in an effort to increase system transparency and understanding. Feedback should consistently and accurately represent the driving landscape and clearly communicate vehicle states to users.