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Automation as accepted and trustful teamMate to enhance traffic safety and efficiency

Automation in passenger cars is constantly increasing, but success commercial uptake will depend on several factors. These mainly include how well they interact, communicate and cooperate with humans both inside and outside the car.

Highly automated vehicles require optimised interaction between humans and machines before introduction onto the market to ensure traffic safety and efficiency. “Human driver and automation have to be regarded as a team that shares the driving task as they’re both responsible for driving safely efficiently and comfortably from A to B” says Dr Andreas Luedtke coordinator of the EU-funded AutoMate project.

Automation and human driver dynamics – boosting safety

The objective of design isn’t the automated driving system itself, but how machine and human driver cooperate to deal with complex situations. “AutoMate will create an extremely reliable automated driving system that users can understand, accept, trust and eventually regularly use,” notes Dr Luedtke. The overall vision is a novel driver-automation interaction and cooperation concept to ensure that automated driving systems will reach their full potential and can be commercially exploited. “This concept is based on viewing and designing automation as the driver’s transparent and cooperative companion or teammate,” he explains.

Project partners are devising a TeamMate car concept to enhance safety by capitalising on the strengths of both automation and human drivers. To do so, they’re performing research and developing innovations for seven technical enablers that range from a sensor and communication platform to online risk assessment. They are also building three demonstrators to test the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of the TeamMate car technologies under different driving scenarios. The corresponding innovations will be integrated into and implemented on several car simulators and real vehicles to evaluate and demonstrate progress and results in real-life traffic conditions.

Researchers developed a framework to provide a general understanding of how driver and automation will interact in the TeamMate car and the traffic and interaction situations to be tackled overall. They defined scenarios and use cases relevant to the car concept. These focus particularly on situations where drivers need the support of an automated teammate to achieve safe, efficient and comfortable driving, and where the automated teammate reaches its system limits and needs the driver’s support. The scenarios and use cases also place emphasis on circumstances where control of the driving task or subtasks has to be shifted between driver and automation, and where the automated teammate learns from the driver.

Team members refined and defined new requirements and fully specified the TeamMate system architecture. These updated requirements will improve the software components and extend the scope of each component’s functionality. They implemented a first version of the TeamMate car demonstrators on driving simulators and proceeded with evaluation in relevant scenarios.

A demo for vehicle automation

With the baseline cars now ready, the team is preparing the demo vehicles that will assess the benefits of using AutoMate with respect to factors such as safety, acceptability and usability. “Our goal is to reuse these prototypes after the end of the project to equip highly automated driving systems with sophisticated human-machine cooperation capabilities,” says Dr Luedtke.

“AutoMate aspires to the creation of a complex automation driving system based on the advanced interaction between humans and cars,” he concludes. “We’re not eliminating drivers, but rather changing their roles so that they can improve safety compared to traditional driverless approaches to vehicle automation.” The team will also address potential barriers, legal, privacy and standardisation issues.

Reference source: Automation as accepted and trustful teamMate to enhance traffic safety and efficiency

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