Timing of Unstructured Transitions of Control in Automated Driving

Abstract: With automated driving systems, drivers may still be expected to resume full control of the vehicle. While structured transitions where drivers are given warning are desirable, it is critical to benchmark how drivers perform when transition of control is unstructured and occurs without advanced warning. In this study, we observed how participants (N=27) in a driving simulator performed after they were subjected to an emergency loss of automation. We tested three transition time conditions, with an unstructured transition of vehicle control occurring 2 seconds, 5 seconds, or 8 seconds before the participants encountered a road hazard that required the drivers’ intervention. Few drivers in the 2 second condition were able to safely negotiate the road hazard situation, while the majority of drivers in 5 or 8 second conditions were able to navigate the hazard safely. Similarly, drivers in 2 second condition rated the vehicle to be less likeable than drivers in 5 and 8 second conditions. From the study results, we are able to narrow in on a minimum amount of time in which drivers can take over the control of vehicle safely and comfortably from the automated system in the advent of an impending road hazard.

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