Study shows automated cars make drivers complacent
New research from Rice University and Texas Tech University has found that when automated vehicles miss hazards, their drivers are also likely to miss them. In addition, the longer the driver uses the automated driving system, the more likely they are to fail to react to hazards.
The argument that "auto-pilot" type features result in complacency on the part of the driver seems to make complete sense, and study put this notion to the test by examining the behavior of 60 licensed drivers operating an automated car in a simulator. Participants were made aware of the expected hazards that the automated car would not be able to safely react to, but told that they would otherwise have no reason to operate the steering wheel or pedals during the simulation.
The hazards consisted of vehicles unsafely stopped or parked in intersections, intruding into the driver's lane to various degrees. In the first 10 minutes, driver accuracy at noting and reacting to these hazard was highest at about 88 percent, meaning that all drivers missed at least some hazards from the start. And things got worse – over the 40-minute simulation, accuracy dropped between 7 and 21 percent.
The most likely explanation for the continuing drop in hazard response, said Pat DeLucia, a professor of psychological sciences at Rice and co-author of the study, is that people get used to the cars doing the driving and become complacent. The new study "suggests that this phenomenon of difficulty monitoring effectively over time extends to monitoring an automated car," DeLucia continued.
"The bottom line is, until automated driving systems are completely reliable and can respond in all situations, the driver must stay alert and be prepared to take over," said Eric Greenlee, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Texas Tech and the study's lead author. "And this research clearly shows that is not happening, and gets worse as time passes."
The study is published in the journal Human Factors.
Source: Rice University