Characterizing Level 2 Automation in a Naturalistic Driving Fleet

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Safe-D University Transportation Center

Introducing automation into the vehicle fleet disrupts how vehicles operate and potentially affects what drivers do with these features and expect from vehicle performance. Therefore, it is imperative to study driver adaptations in response to these innovations. This investigation leveraged 47 vehicles from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Level 2 (L2) Naturalistic Driving Study to analyze driver behavior with L2 automation features. Results showed no sizeable differences between periods of L2 feature usage and general driving periods with respect to time-of-day and calendar-related metrics. Most L2 feature usage occurred on motorways, following design expectations. L2 features were activated for 7.2 minutes in trips lasting an average of 22.8 minutes, or about 32% of the L2 trip duration. Driver-initiated overrides were predominantly done by braking or accelerating the vehicle, with steering-based overrides being minimal and likely involving lane changes without using a turn signal. Intervention requests were the most common takeover request, followed by requests due to insufficient driver hand contact with the steering wheel. Findings suggest that as L2 features penetrate the U.S. fleet in non-luxury consumer vehicles, system usage will be common and comparable with previous findings for luxury offerings. While evidence of potential system misuse was observed, future work may further operationalize system misuse and assess the prevalence of such behaviors.

Level 2 automation, naturalistic driving, driver behavior