September 21, 2015, by Emma Lowry

Zombie vehicles showcased at car technology conference

The 7th Automotive User Interface conference, Auto UI 2015, took place at The University of Nottingham from 1-3 September.

The conference attracted researchers to Nottingham from around the world, with more than 170 delegates from 18 different countries, around 40 per cent from industry. Most of the major car manufacturers were represented as well as companies like Google, Pioneer, Bosch, Intel and Nokia.

Among the subjects under discussion was the use of augmented reality to improve driver performance. Research carried out by Adam Bolton, Gary Burnett and David Large, from the Faculty of Engineering, at The University of Nottingham showed that using landmark-based navigation through a Heads Up Display (HUD) can greatly improve drivers’ route-finding performance by highlighting and enhancing road landmarks using augmented reality (AR).

Research participants demonstrated significant performance improvements while using the AR landmark ‘box’ compared to conventional distance-to-turn information, with response times and success rates enhanced by 43.1 per cent and 26.2 per cent, respectively. Drivers also reported a significant reduction in workload when using the AR landmark ‘boxes’.

Other research demonstrated how pedestrian and cyclist reactions to self-driving cars, without a human driver, could be tested through the use of a ‘ghost driver’; a car that appears to be self-driving, with the actual driver disguised as a car seat. More than 80 per cent of participants were convinced by the technique.

In the future, long distance lorry drivers could exercise while driving using a multifunctional seat that allows the driver to stand up while still wearing a seatbelt. A new driver’s seat has been developed for this purpose, which could be used with user-interfaces (UI) to allow exercise during periods of highly automated driving, for example, driving at a steady speed on a motorway.

Self-driving vehicles can hand over control to human drivers when they reach the limit of their capability. Research shows that distracted drivers who are prompted by visual and auditory warnings can compensate for system limitations, and led to recommendations for the design of future handover systems.

Another research paper presented at the conference explored the use of games and augmented reality to blend digital elements with physical road features to encourage positive and safer driver behaviour, while making these fun and rewarding, for example, discouraging tailgating by avoiding infection from ‘zombie cars’.

Posted in Engineering