Adaptation Evaluation: An Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) System Used by Drivers with Lower Limb Disabilities

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Twenty subjects with lower limb disabilities participated in a simulator study. The purpose of the study was to investigate how an Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system together with two different hand controls for accelerator and brake influenced workload, comfort and driving behaviour and to further develop a method to evaluate vehicle adaptations for drivers with disabilities. The installed ACC system could maintain a constant speed selected and set by the driver and it also adapted speed in order to keep a safe distance to a leading vehicle. Furthermore, it included a stop-and-go function. Two common types of hand controls for accelerator and brake were used. The hand controls were different both with respect to function, single or dual levers, and position, on the steering column or between the front seats. The subjects were all experienced drivers of adapted cars equipped with hand controls. All subjects drove 100km at two occasions, with and without the ACC system available but with the same hand control. Subjective workload was found to be significantly lower and performance better for the ACC condition. The difference in speed variation between manual and ACC supported driving increased with the distance driven which seems to support the previous finding. The subjects thought they could control both speed and distance to leading vehicles better while the ACC was available. ACC driving did not influence reaction time, speed level, lateral position or variation in lateral position. Headway during car following situations was shorter for the ACC condition compared to manual driving. The ACC was well received, trusted and wanted. It was concluded that the ACC system substantially decreased workload, increased comfort and did not influence safety negatively. The only difference found between the two types of hand controls was that drivers using the dual lever system had less variation in lateral position. The applied evaluation method proved to be useful but needs to be further developed.

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