Are experienced drivers quicker to regain full situation awareness in scenarios involving transfer of control from the automation to the driver?

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Timothy J. Wright
Siby Samuel
Avinoam Borowsky
Shlomo Zilberstein
Donald L Fisher

Studies that examine the driver’s ability to seamlessly return to the driving task following a period of autonomous driving typically look at driving stability or reaction time metrics post-automation to gauge the success of a transfer of control from the automated driving suite (ADS) to the driver (e.g., Gold, Dambock, Lorenz, & Bengler, 2013; Merat, Jamson, Lai, Daly, & Carsten, 2014). While these metrics are undoubtedly related to safe driving and consequently, successful transfer of control, these metrics do not fully gauge the driver’s situational awareneess. Accordingly, Samuel and Fisher (2016, accepted) used hazard anticipation as a proxy for situational awareness to better undersstand drivers’ ability to resume control of the vehicle following a period of autonomous driving. These researchers determined that after a period of autonomous driving a minimum of 8 seconds was required for drivers to achieve the same level of situational awareness that is typically associated with manual driving. However, this 8 second minimum transfer of control alerting time (TOCAT) was derived from a sample of relatively inexperienced drivers (18-22 years of age). Considering that experienced drivers are better at anticipating hazards compared to inexperienced drivers (Pradhan, Hammel, DeRamus, Pollatsek, Noyce & Fisher, 2005), it is possible that experienced drivers may require less time to achieve situational awareness in driving scenarios involving transfer of control from automation. This would increase our understanding of how to individualize the TOCAT as well as our understanding of whether hazard anticipation is a good proxy for situation awareness.

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