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Third-party-funded project

EMPHASIS (Effort-Management and Performance Handling in safety-relevant situations)

Project management at the University of Würzburg:

Participating scientists:

The project's aim was to develop dimensions for analysing and evaluating the effects of driver information and assistance systems on driving behaviour. These dimensions can be found in three fields: driver performance, energetic management (workload) and for the mental representation of the systems and their functionality. The studies examined two systems: Adaptive Cruise Control, a system affecting longitudinal control and Heading Control, a system supporting the lateral control of the vehicle. Both systems were designed either as an informational system (visual feedback of velocity and distance for ACC and acoustical warning in the case of lane departure for HC) or as systems taking over the longitudinal control (ACC) respectively supporting the lateral control by adding a steering moment dependent on lateral deviation for HC). The results show that the evaluation of these systems has to include direct observations of the driver?s behaviour as well as the energetic consequences and the effects on the cognitive representation of the driving situation. Therefore, assessment techniques need to be developed which are sensitive not only for activational processes (vigilance, workload) but also for the degree of situational awareness. EMPHASIS has made the first steps to develop a measurement toolbox for those processes. A main result of EMPHASIS is the importance of the information the driver receives from the systems. Generally, the drivers tend to overestimate the systems´ functionality. When they had to take over control the drivers often reacted very late. In consequence, system design has to show the limits and the functionality of the systems as clearly as possible. Another important outcome is the fundamental significance of haptic and kinesthetic information. Drivers are highly sensitive to those sensory modalities, a fact which requires the system designer to shape those information very carefully.

Key words:
    intelligent transport systems
    driver assistance
    driver information
    adaptive cruise control
    lane departure warning
    driver performance
    driver behaviour
    situational awareness

Projekt period: from 07.1999 to 12.2001

Funding institution:

Information about the project
Chair of Psychology III (Methods and Traffic Psychology)
Center for Traffic Sciences