Perception Creates Reality - Factors influencing the driver’s perception and consequent understanding of Driving Automation Systems

Abstract: The automotive industry is rapidly developing driving automation systems (DAS) with the aim of supporting drivers through automation of longitudinal and lateral vehicle control. As vehicle complexity increases, drivers’ understanding of their responsibility and their vehicles’ capabilities and limitations becomes significantly more important. In order to motivate manufacturers to adopt a human-centric perspective for the development of driving automation systems, the factors influencing the driver’s perception during usage of such systems have to be understood. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to contribute to the understanding of factors influencing user perception and understanding of driving automation systems in order to guide future design decisions from a human-centric perspective. The research for this thesis is organised into three empirical studies, embedding a mixed-methods research design. Study 1 aimed at investigating usage of DAS during different driving situations by facilitating an online survey. Studies 2 and 3 aimed to explore how drivers motivate their usage of driving automation systems, and which factors affect their understanding. Study 2 adopted an Explanatory Sequential Mixed Methods approach, consisting of a Naturalistic Driving Study and in-depth interviews to elicit knowledge about how users understand the DAS, and which factors influence usage. In Study 3 observations and interviews during an on-road driving session with a Wizard-of-Oz vehicle were conducted to gain insights into how users build an understanding of a vehicle with multiple levels of automation. The results show that the users of such systems, independent of the level of automation, talked about the systems by referring to different elements: the Context, the Vehicle, and the Driver. In addition, eleven recurring aspects describing the drivers’ understanding of an automated system were discerned. Furthermore, six factors were identified that influence how drivers perceive driving automation during usage. The six factors are Preconceptions, Perceived Usefulness, Previous Experiences, Trust, System Performance, and Driving Behaviour of the Vehicle. Collectively, the identified aspects and factors constitute the building blocks of a process describing how drivers perceive driving automation systems and how this shapes their consequent understanding. The process is presented as a descriptive unified model. The main contribution of this thesis is twofold: unification of aspects found to shape a driver’s understanding of a driving automation system, and the presentation of a unified descriptive model of the process showing how this understanding is shaped through what the driver perceives at the moment of use.