Older drivers: Advanced driving assistance technologies and AVs
The objectives of this program of research are to address a series of key issues regarding perceptions of a range of Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Automated Vehicles (AV) in older adults, how older adults interact with currently available technologies, and, importantly, to determine the extent to which ADAS and AVs can improve older driver safety and mobility.
ADAS and AVs have the potential to increase older driver mobility and independence, with associated health and safety benefits. However, little is known about how older drivers interact with these technologies and how this group can leverage the technology to improve road safety outcomes.
The project will be undertaken through novel multidisciplinary approaches, including focus groups and closed road driving assessments with a real automated vehicle (the Level 4 ZOE2).
Outcomes from this project will inform evidence-based guidelines and recommendations for manufacturers, retailers, and policy makers to promote usage of ADAS and AV, and improve understanding of how these vehicle technologies impact on older driver safety.
Research on ADAS and AVs has typically focused on technological innovation, with limited consideration of how these emerging technologies may impact on different driver populations, particularly, older drivers and those with age-related impairments, such as vision, cognitive and physical impairments.
There are several unanswered questions that will be addressed by this research that are critical if older people, with and without age-related declines and impairments, are to embrace ADASs and AVs and use them safely. This research will take a novel approach to understanding the perceptions and experiences of older drivers with and without age-related impairments in relation to ADASs and AVs and will, for the first time, determine how these vehicle technologies impact on their driving performance.
Focus groups and on-road driving tests will be conducted on a closed road circuit using the Level 4 highly-automated vehicle, ZOE2.
The outcomes of the subjective and the objective safety analysis of this project will be used to inform the development of evidence-based guidelines and recommendations for manufacturers, retailers and policy makers to promote usage and encourage take-up of ADAS and AVs by designing more intuitive and older driver-friendly user interfaces (e.g. training, documentation).
They will also enable better understanding of the impacts of these vehicle technologies on the safety of older drivers with and without a range of age-related impairments.
The longer-term goals of this research are to optimise the design of ADAS and AVs to accommodate all sectors of the driving population.
The research questions to be addressed in this research program are:
- What functionality do older people with and without a range of normal age-related impairments want from ADASs and AVs and how do their expectations match the reality?
- What are the socio-economic and physical barriers to older people adopting ADAS and AV technology and how could these barriers be overcome?
- What types of training or resources such as new HMI can be developed to improve the confidence of older people (with or without a range of normal age-related sensory and cognitive declines) and capacity to trust, accept and use ADAS and AV technology?
- How do current generation ADAS and AVs impact on the driving performance of older drivers assessed under on-road conditions?
These research questions are critical and particularly relevant in terms of addressing the age-related declines and impairments that people face when they wish to continue driving in later life:
- Sensory impairments, particularly, vision impairment, can affect the ability to detect and recognise other road users, road signs, drive under low-light conditions or in dazzling light situations.
- Cognitive declines affect an individual’s ability to process information, i.e. take in and respond to the road environment which can affect skills such as judging the speed of vehicles, or when switching attention between driving tasks.
- Physical impairments, such as restricted mobility and joint (e.g. neck) movements affect a driver’s ability to accurately observe the road environment and could affect their ability to control a vehicle safely.
Indeed, vehicles with higher levels of automation can exacerbate these challenges because the point at which humans are required to rapidly intervene in a driving situation are likely to include complex visual scenes or other ambiguous information.
Yet older drivers, and those with cognitive declines have less effective visual search strategies, increased errors in switching tasks, poorer visual discrimination, and poorer selective attention (Anstey and Wood, 2011). They also have slowed decision-making and lower ability to handle complex situations (Mathias and Lucas, 2009).
It is essential, therefore that the in-vehicle Human-Machine interfaces are designed to make it as cognitively and physically easy as possible for older drivers to take back control of the vehicle safely when required.
ZOE2 has been funded through the iMOVE Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving Safety Study, a partnership between iMOVE Australia, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (Queensland) and the Queensland University of Technology.
Please note …
This page will be a living record of this project. As it matures, hits milestones, etc., we’ll continue to add information, links, images, interviews and more. Watch this space!