Understanding of advanced vehicle technology: The role of system exposure and perceptions of other road users

New automated technologies are becoming increasingly available in passenger vehicles. These complex systems, while offering new safety and convenience features, change the nature of driving— including the nature of driving responsibilities. Importantly, drivers need to understand the purpose, capabilities and limitations of these systems in order to utilize and interact with them appropriately. Drivers’ understanding of these systems is sometimes referred to as their mental model of the automated system. Misunderstandings can lead to unintended—and potentially safety-critical—consequences. Previous research by the AAA Foundation has helped identify gaps in users’ knowledge and understanding of currently available advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). The current (Year 1) cooperative research project between SAFER-SIM and AAAFTS, The Impact of Driver’s Mental Models of Advanced Vehicle Technologies on Safety and Performance, is comprised of two tasks. The first is being led by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and involves a review of the literature and technical documentation for automated vehicle technology and the development of a taxonomy of the potential types and categories of errors that can arise because of poor or insufficient mental models. The second task, led by the University of Iowa, involves a driving simulator study that examines how the quality of a driver’s mental model of automated technology impacts their safety, performance and use of the system, especially in edge case scenarios. In Year 2, the research team plans to continue to develop our understanding of driver mental models of advanced vehicle technologies, building on and complementing the Year 1 activities. This project will aim to address the following important questions related to the longer-term development of mental models as well as how intermittent system changes impact drivers’ experiences: (1) How does longer-term exposure to AV or ADAS technology affect a driver’s mental model, including an assessment of users’ long-term adaptation to systems? (2) What is the impact of intermittent system changes (e.g., through over-the-air updates to the software)? (3) How do mental models vary across different vulnerable road user groups, including older or inexperienced drivers? This can also include non-drivers. For example, how do the mental models of other road users impact vehicle-road user interactions?


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $150000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    University of Iowa, Iowa City

    National Advanced Driving Simulator, 2401 Oakdale Blvd
    Iowa City, IA  United States  52242-5003
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Iowa, Iowa City

    National Advanced Driving Simulator, 2401 Oakdale Blvd
    Iowa City, IA  United States  52242-5003

    University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    130 Natural Resources Road
    Amherst, MA  United States  01003

    University of Central Florida, Orlando

    Department of Civil, Environmental & Contruction Engineering
    1280 Pegasus Drive, 442B Engineering II
    Orlando, FL  United States  32816

    University of Wisconsin, Madison

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    1415 Engineering Drive
    Madison, WI  United States  53706
  • Principal Investigators:

    Gaspar, John

    Pradhan, Anuj

    Hamann, Cara

    Guo, Zhaomiao

    Santiago-Chaparro, Kelvin

    Roberts, Shannon

  • Start Date: 20200101
  • Expected Completion Date: 20211231
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01738862
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Safety Research Using Simulation University Transportation Center (SaferSim)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747131
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: May 7 2020 1:12PM