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Taking Back Control of an Autonomous Car Affects Human Steering Behavior, Stanford Research Shows

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Reading while the self-driving car does the work.

Researchers at Stanford University found the handover of driving control from autonomous vehicles to human drivers can be difficult, particularly if conditions have changed since the last time a person was at the wheel.

Credit: Volvo

A research team at Stanford University tested the handover of driving from autonomous cars to human drivers and found such a shift can be difficult for people if conditions have changed since the last time they were at the wheel.

"There is this physical change and we need to acknowledge that people's performance might not be at its peak if they haven't actively been participating in the driving," says lead researcher and former Stanford graduate student Holly Russell.

Participants drove a 15-second track composed of a straightaway and a lane change, then let the car take over and return them to the start. After repeating this task three more times, they drove the course 10 additional times under steering conditions altered to reflect changes in speed or steering that may occur while the car drives itself.

"Even knowing about the change, being able to make a plan and do some explicit motor planning for how to compensate, you still saw a very different steering behavior and compromised performance," notes Stanford researcher Lene Harbott.

Harbott says these experiments are only the beginning of a process that self-driving car designers will need to refer to in order to make automated vehicle handover smoother and prevent accidents.

From Stanford News
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