Integrating Automobile Multiple Intelligent Warning Systems : Performance and Policy Implications
Author(s)Ho, Angela Wei Ling
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Humans and Automation Laboratory
MetadataShow full item record
Intelligent driver warning systems can be found in many high-end vehicles on the road today, which will likely rapidly increase as they become standard equipment. However, introducing multiple warning systems into vehicles could potentially add to the complexity of the driving task, and there are many critical human factors issues that should be considered, such as how the interaction between alarm alerting schemes, system reliabilities, and distractions combine to affect driving performance and situation awareness. In addition, there are also questions with respect to whether there should be any minimum safety standards set to ensure both functional and usage safety of these systems, and what these standards should be. An experiment was conducted to study how a single master alert versus multiple individual alerts of different reliabilities affected drivers’ responses to different imminent collision situations while distracted. A master alert may have advantages since it reduces the total number of alerts, which could be advantageous especially with the proliferation of intelligent warning systems. However, a master alert may also confuse drivers, since it does not warn of a specific hazard, unlike a specific alert for each warning systems. Auditory alerts were used to warn of imminent frontal and rear collisions, as well as unintentional left and right lane departures. Low and high warning reliabilities were also tested. The different warning systems and reliability factors produced significantly different reaction times and response accuracies. The warning systems with low reliability caused accuracy rates to fall more than 40% across the four warning systems. In addition, low reliability systems also induced negative emotions in participants. Thus, reliability is one of the most crucial determinants of driving performance and the safety outcome, and it is imperative that warning systems are reliable. For the master versus distinct alarms factor, drivers responded statistically no different to the various collision warnings for both reaction times and accuracy of responses. However, in a subjective postexperiment assessment, participants preferred distinct alarms for different driver warning systems, even though their objective performance showed no difference to the different alerting schemes. This study showed that it was essential to design robust and reliable intelligent warning systems. However, there are no existing safety standards today to ensure that these systems are safe before they are introduced into vehicles, even though such systems are already available in high-end cars. Even though there are tradeoffs in having standards, such as increased time-to-market and possible loss of innovation, I recommend that safety standards be set nonetheless, since standards will ensure the safety performance of warning systems, to an extent. In terms of functional safety, safety standards should be performance-based, and should specify a minimum level of reliability. In terms of usage safety, the standards should also be performance-based, where driving performance can be indicated by measures such as reaction time, lane position, heading distance and accuracy of responses. In addition, multiple threat scenarios should also be tested. In terms of design guidelines, the various human factors guidelines from different countries should be harmonized internationally to ensure that manufacturers have access to a consistent set of guidelines. Finally, it is also important that these standards, especially for usage safety, specify tests with not just the average driver, but also with peripheral driving populations including novice and elderly drivers.
MIT Humans and Automation Laboratory