Automated driving reduces perceived workload, but monitoring causes higher cognitive load than manual driving

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Abstract

Driver mental workload is an important factor in the operational safety of automated driving. In this study, workload was evaluated subjectively (NASA R-TLX) and objectively (auditory detection-response task) on Dutch public highways (∼150 km) comparing manual and supervised automated driving in a Tesla Model S with moderators automation experience and traffic complexity. Participants (N = 16) were either automation-inexperienced drivers or automation-experienced Tesla owners. Complexity ranged from an engaging environment with a road geometry stimulating continuous traffic interaction, and a monotonic environment with lower traffic density and a simple road geometry. Perceived and objective workload increased with traffic complexity. When using the automation, automation-experienced drivers perceived a lower workload, while automation-inexperienced drivers perceived their workload to be similar to manual driving. However, the detection-response task indicated an increase in cognitive load with automation, in particular in complex traffic. This indicates that drivers under-estimate the actual task load of attentive monitoring. The findings also highlight the relevance of using system-experienced participants and the importance of incorporating both objective and subjective measures when examining workload.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-605
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Volume60
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Automated driving
  • Experience
  • On-road
  • Workload

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