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What happens when drivers of automated vehicles take over control in critical lane change situations?

Roche, Fabienne; Becker, Sandra; ThĂĽring, Manfred

According to legislation, take-overs initiated by the driver must always be possible during automated driving. For example, when drivers mistrust the automation to handle a critical and hazardous lane change, they might intervene and take over control while the automation is performing the maneuver. In these situations, drivers may have little time to avoid an accident and can be exposed to high lateral forces. Due to lacking research, it is yet unknown if they recognize the criticality of the situation and how they behave and perform to manage it. In a driving simulator study, participants (N = 60) accomplished eight double lane changes to evade obstacles in their lane. Time-to-collision and traction usage were varied to establish different degrees of objective criticality. To manipulate these parameters as required, participants were triggered to take over control by an acoustic cue. This setting shows what might happen if drivers disable the automation and complete the maneuver themselves. The results of the experiment demonstrate that drivers rated objectively more critical driving situations as more critical and responded to the hazard very fast over all experimental conditions. However, their behavior was more extreme with respect to decelerating and steering than necessary. This impaired driving performance and increased the risk of lane departures and collisions. The results of the experiment can be used to develop an assistance system that supports driver-initiated take-overs.
Published in: Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 10.1016/j.trf.2021.11.021, Elsevier