Reduced Attention Allocation during Short Periods of Partially Automated Driving: An Event-Related Potentials Study

Publisher's full text
Alejandro Galvao-Carmona

Research on partially automated driving has revealed relevant problems with driving performance, particularly when drivers' intervention is required (e.g., take-over when automation fails). Mental fatigue has commonly been proposed to explain these effects after prolonged automated drives. However, performance problems have also been reported after just a few minutes of automated driving, indicating that other factors may also be involved. We hypothesize that, besides mental fatigue, an underload effect of partial automation may also affect driver attention.

In this study, such potential effect was investigated during short periods of partially automated and manual driving and at different speeds. Subjective measures of mental demand and vigilance and performance to a secondary task (an auditory oddball task) were used to assess driver attention. Additionally, modulations of some specific attention-related event-related potentials (ERPs, N1 and P3 components) were investigated. The mental fatigue effects associated with the time on task were also evaluated by using the same measurements.

Twenty participants drove in a fixed-base simulator while performing an auditory oddball task that elicited the ERPs. Six conditions were presented (5-6 min each) combining three speed levels (low, comfortable and high) and two automation levels (manual and partially automated). The results showed that, when driving partially automated, scores in subjective mental demand and P3 amplitudes were lower than in the manual conditions. Similarly, P3 amplitude and self-reported vigilance levels decreased with the time on task. Based on previous studies, these findings might reflect a reduction in drivers' attention resource allocation, presumably due to the underload effects of partial automation and to the mental fatigue associated with the time on task. Particularly, such underload effects on attention could explain the performance decrements after short periods of automated driving reported in other studies. However, further studies are needed to investigate this relationship in partial automation and in other automation levels.



Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) workshop in Stockholm

An open seminar and workshop in Stockholm will be held on 25-26 April 2018. The workshop deals with the use of CBA as a basis for decision-making in the public sector. The workshop is organized by, among others, Professor Jan-Eric Nilsson, VTI.



Ulf Sandberg has been presented with the TTI Lifetime Achievement Award 2018

VTI’s Senior Research Leader Ulf Sandberg has been presented with the TTI Lifetime Achievement Award 2018 for his work on research into tyres and road surface.


Steps need to be taken to increase traffic safety of automated cars

Several steps are necessary to ensure that automated and connected cars will lead to increased traffic safety – everything from ensuring that technology takes vulnerable road users into account, to new forms of driver training. This has emerged in a position...


FALCON examines challenges in the transport sector

VTI is one of several important partners in the major FALCON project*, whose purpose is to create knowledge and insight regarding the transport sector. In an initial subproject, VTI has produced a manual on transport, logistics and multimodality.


VTI joined research cooperation in China

In December 2017 VTI became a member of China-Sweden Research Centre for Traffic Safety (CTS).


Swedish German research collaboration on Electric Road Systems

The project “Swedish-German research collaboration on Electric Road Systems” (CollERS) has now officially started. The goal of the project is to increase the common knowledge around Electric Road Systems by cooperation between Germany and Sweden and to...


Electric Road Systems Conference 2018

After a successful first conference in June 2017, the Swedish research and innovation platform for electric roads is arranging the second dedicated International Conference on Electric Road Systems (ERS) June 13th and 14th 2018.