Using virtual reality techniques to investigating interactions between fully autonomous vehicles and vulnerable road users

Fully autonomous vehicles (FAV) or Level 5 automation vehicles can perform driving tasks in any environment and under all conditions without input from human drivers. However, they can lead to other challenges during real world implementation. Specifically, communication methods between vulnerable road users (pedestrians, bicyclists) and FAVs may change ultimately, which may lead to misunderstanding of intentions and cause more collisions. When road-users enter the road network, they initiate a constant exchange of information with the traffic environment and other road-users around them in order to be ready to respond immediately. Road-crossing pedestrians and bicyclists generally rely on informal communication methods, eye contact, facial expression and gestures, to interpret intentions of other road users and make decisions based on the information. With FAVs, these informal communication approaches cannot be realized. Hence, it is necessary to understand the interactions between these road users and FAV and design proper external features of FAV to establish efficient communication method. This project intends to expose participants to simulated testing environments with virtual reality headset and identify potential interface designs for FAV-pedestrian interaction. With pre-experiment collection of participants’ socio-demographic data, and behavioral measurements during the experiment, pedestrians’ attributes and factors that influence their road-crossing behavior and trust of AVs will be investigated.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • The research team intends to collaborate with Indianapolis city authorities to test the implementation of the proposed research product.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $150,000 ($75,000 CCAT, $25K InDOT,$50K Chang An)
  • 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

    Center for Connected and Automated Transportation

    University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
    Ann Arbor, MI  United States  48109
  • Managing Organizations:

    Center for Connected and Automated Transportation

    University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
    Ann Arbor, MI  United States  48109

    University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

    2901 Baxter Road
    Ann Arbor, Michigan  United States  48109
  • Project Managers:

    Tucker-Thomas, Dawn

    Bezzina, Debra

  • Performing Organizations:

    Purdue University, Lyles School of Civil Engineering

    550 Stadium Mall Drive
    West Lafayette, IN  United States  47907
  • Principal Investigators:

    Labi, Samuel

    Chen, Sikai

  • Start Date: 20210101
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240229
  • Actual Completion Date: 20240330
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program
  • Subprogram: Research

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01768638
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Center for Connected and Automated Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747105
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Mar 26 2021 9:26PM