In March, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) and APA partnered to submit a response to a request for comments (PDF, 172KB), offering recommendations on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Automated Vehicles (AV) Comprehensive Plan (PDF, 11.5MB). Automation is now more prevalent in the transportation sector, where autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles will soon be introduced to American roadways. Currently, the AV comprehensive plan does not sufficiently address the actions needed to ensure safety as DOT considers changing existing standards. Recommendations from APA and HFES focus on the development of automated driving systems that work safely and effectively for humans through better testing prior to deployment and improved trust with the public.

Automated driving technologies can significantly affect human performance and should be designed and tested in ways that evaluate potentially negative impacts on drivers. Prior to changing current safety standards, APA and HFES urged DOT to engage with academic researchers and human factors experts who understand the complex tradeoffs of human-automation interaction. Failing to sufficiently address the potential for automation to degrade the performance of a human operator can substantially impair safety, and can also undermine public acceptance and trust in this emerging technology.

APA and HFES strongly emphasized the importance of trust in AVs as essential for successful and safe deployment in the U.S. A deeper understanding of the process by which humans establish trust in automated technologies is needed to better determine the most consequential variables. Both contributing to and complementing human factors research, behavioral and psychological science research is necessary to inform the design by computer scientists and engineers that will be more trustworthy to human operators. Furthermore, APA and HFES conveyed to the DOT that the ultimate success of AVs and the establishment of trust by the driving public is highly dependent on interdisciplinary and collaborative development efforts.

For more information, please contact Joseph Keller.