POWER OF DATA BLOG

Partnering with Autonomous Vehicles

Driving in the 21st Century
Jan 11/2018 Published by: Lytx Lytx Telematics
Bobbie Seppelt

We recently sat down with Bobbie Seppelt, Ph.D., an expert human factors research scientist and consultant in the design of automotive systems and products for Detroit-based Touchstone Evaluations. An industrial engineer by education, Dr. Seppelt is a leading consultant to the automotive industry on the role of the human driver/operator of autonomous vehicles (AVs), with an emphasis on commercial transportation. Dr. Seppelt provides leadership and guidance in emerging issues related to vehicle automation, and integration of advanced technology with a focus on driver-vehicle interface design.

Commercial vehicle manufacturers have already taken steps toward AVs, says Dr. Seppelt, but in general, truck automation on highways and in cities will likely be introduced after consumer vehicles. The role of the commercial driver, however, has already begun to evolve.

“As more automation is introduced into the commercial vehicle, the driver’s role is shifting to include engaging, monitoring and managing automated systems based on their capabilities to respond and adapt to unexpected events and conditions,” she said. This, of course, is reliant on the extent to which these systems can operate in environments with some degree of unpredictability due to weather, traffic, pedestrians or other environmental influences.

“The more capable automated systems become, the more the driver will shift into a passenger role. However, even in this role, the human will still need to be aware of how the vehicle is performing relative to its capabilities and limitations to be prepared to potentially step in and resume manual control if requested, or if the system reaches a state where it is unable to complete trip goals,” said Dr. Seppelt.

Defining the New Role of the Commercial Driver

She believes that the definition of the driver will change as vehicles evolve to incorporate more automation.

“Depending on how automated systems are designed for use in commercial vehicles, the driver will become either a ‘partner’ or a ‘supervisor’, or will transition between types of roles during periods of automated control,” says Dr. Seppelt.

When the driver is acting to cooperate with the automation or to supervise its behavior, Dr. Seppelt says certain issues become important, including:

  • Can the driver remain successfully attentive to driving – even though the vehicle is lightening the driver’s load – and possibly allowing them to momentarily shift attention to non-driving tasks?
  • What is it that the driver will choose to do (or attend to) when the vehicle is autonomously controlling driving?
  • Can the driver maintain enough awareness of the driving situation to be able to successfully resume control in urgent conditions or when the vehicle transitions control back to them?

With these scenarios, there are new and important tasks the driver will be called upon to perform:

  • Supervise the performance and behavior of the automation
  • Understand how automation is performing relative to its capabilities and limits
  • Select and engage automated systems in situations in which it will improve efficiency and performance over manual control, and disengage it when the reverse occurs
  • Communicate navigation and vehicle control performance goals to the automated system(s) to, in collaboration, achieve required/optimal/safe trip outcomes.

Completing these tasks will require new, evolving skills, significantly changing how drivers will be selected and trained, and how their performance will be evaluated. Critical new skills will include knowing how automated technologies function and interact with one another and the driver (where we add value!), the situations and dynamics under which individual technologies are designed to operate in and at what efficiencies.

More practically, Dr. Seppelt says that to maintain safety, drivers will need to successfully manage attention to multiple tasks while remaining aware of how his or her current state and behavior are affecting the overall system performance.

At Lytx, our expertise in improving fleet performance is fueled by a knowledge database built on over 50 billion driving miles—one of the largest in the world. As fleets begin purchasing vehicles with increasing levels of automation, we can help those fleets ensure their drivers are engaged, safe, and prepared to take control in complex and risky road conditions.


Related Tags

Autonomous Vehicles

Related Blog Posts

Sep 16 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Understanding the Demand for Driverless Cars

Staff Writer

Sep 14 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Who Will Code Ethics into Autonomous Vehicles?

Staff Writer

Aug 25 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Innovation’s Role in Recruiting the Next Generation of Drivers

Staff Writer

Aug 18 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Frost & Sullivan: 1 million vehicles with video by 2020

Staff Writer

Aug 13 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

Humans vs. Robot Cars: Preparing for the Showdown

Staff Writer

May 16 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Predictive Analytics: A Game Changer in 2018

Staff Writer

Jan 15 / 2015Driving in the 21st Century

CES Focus: Road Safety

Staff Writer

Oct 17 / 2014Driving in the 21st Century

It Takes More than Technology To Make Roads Safer

Del Lisk

Sep 17 / 2014Driving in the 21st Century

Women on the Road

Staff Writer

Jun 15 / 2016Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How Gamification Optimizes Driving & Vehicle Performance

Staff Writer

Apr 14 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Autonomous Vehicle Essentials You Need to Know Part One: Levels of Automation

Staff Writer

Apr 18 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Autonomous Vehicle Essentials You Need to Know Part Two: Impact on Drivers, Fleets and the Industry

Staff Writer

Jun 26 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How ‘Cultural Novocain’ is Numbing Outrage to Traffic Fatalities

Staff Writer

Jul 17 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

More Fatalities Happen on Rural Roads - On Either Side of the Atlantic

Beth Geraci

Aug 10 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Distracted Pedestrians are On the Rise: What to Do About Them

Staff Writer

Aug 16 / 2017Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Fear of Autonomous Vehicles – Loving of Autonomous Features

Staff Writer

Sep 01 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Trucking Industry Pulls Together to Aid Houston During Hurricane Harvey

Staff Writer

Sep 25 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Video: Evolution, Revolution, or Both?

Brandon Nixon

Oct 10 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Painting the Complete Picture: The Use of Witnesses in Trials

Staff Writer

Dec 13 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

How Safety Technology is Paving the Way to Zero Collisions

Beth Geraci

Dec 15 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Catching the Spirit of the Season

Beth Geraci

Dec 27 / 2017Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Out of Control: Drugged Driving Is on the Rise. Here’s What Commercial Drivers Can Do About It.

Beth Geraci

Feb 02 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Off Site but on Top of It: Leveraging Video Telematics to be in More Places at Once

Staff Writer

Feb 07 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

2018 Automotive Telematics Trends: A Look at the Telematics Industry

Beth Geraci

Feb 21 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

What 20 Years of Innovation Looks Like at a Video Telematics Company

Beth Geraci

Mar 29 / 2018Changing Driver Behavior, Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Driver of the Year Embraces Safety Technology

Beth Geraci

Apr 13 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Complying With the ELD Mandate: What’s Next?

Staff Writer

Apr 27 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Distracted Driving Awareness: Curbing the Power of Smartphones

Beth Geraci

May 23 / 2018Driving in the 21st Century, Featured

Five Benefits of Modern Fleet Tracking Systems

Staff Writer