Autonomous commercial vehicles require clear and consistent communication to know when drivers are relaxed and focused.Paul Woods
Countless headlines promote the short-term promise of autonomous trucks in recent years. “A fully autonomous fleet is just around the corner.” “Self-driving is coming for the job of truck drivers”; “Fully autonomous ride hailing unfolding this year.” But to this day, commercial with many regulatory, liability, and legal hurdles. The promise of true autonomy for vehicles (CVs) has not yet been fulfilled.
There is no doubt that a fully autonomous commercial fleet is imminent, but mass adoption is probably years away, despite the potential offers of dozens of companies in the field. However, from now on to the distant days, lower levels of monitored autonomy still play a key role in improving the safety, comfort, and performance of CVs. The question is what it looks like and what it takes to get there.
The road to commercial fleet autonomy
Autonomy has even greater potential when it comes to CVs, especially in industries such as transportation, than private cars. Fixed long-distance routes, relatively predictable highway conditions, and, of course, the presence of professional drivers make this technology a perfect fit.
Transient levels of autonomy, such as Level 2 and Level 3, have a significant impact on improving the daily lives of commercial drivers, even before a full hands-off experience is legally possible. In addition to the obvious safety benefits of ADAS functionality, autonomy helps reduce transportation costs by optimizing fuel and route efficiency.
Building a successful autonomous experience
Truck drivers are very skilled professionals and often have decades of driving experience. First and foremost, these drivers must fully trust their safety in order for autonomous technology to work in vehicles. And it’s important to emphasize that this is all new to them. After all, cars have been around for over 100 years. There is no doubt in the driver’s mind that this technology is reliable, consistent, and above all, never behaves unexpectedly.
The key to achieving this trust lies in the details of the user experience: human factors design of how drivers and machines interface. Based on Edenspiekermann’s experience in designing in-car user experiences with varying levels of autonomy, there are several key factors to success. Not surprisingly, the devil is really in the details when it comes to designing human factors for autonomy.
Small visual, audio, or tactile cues direct the driver. For example, a blinking light indicating that the ADAS system is on, or a gentle vibration of the steering wheel indicating that the driver needs to take action.
How can I know when it’s safe to take my hand off and when I need to get it back soon? The key to communicating both instances is to define small visual, audio, or tactile cues that direct the driver. For example, a flashing light indicating that the ADAS system is on, a gentle vibration of the steering wheel indicating that the driver needs to take action, or a loud voice alert indicating a serious problem. These clues must be consistently applied and enhanced to “train” the driver to know which behaviors are safe and which are not.
- Verification of extensive user testing experience
Validating these clues with real users is the difference between success and failure. The best automotive software teams spend months, and even years, verifying these clues through a variety of user tests, not only in the lab but also on the go. And most importantly, under various conditions.
- Consistency above all
Laptop crashes can be a stressful experience for any user. However, if the software controls a commercial vehicle (40 tonnes of rolled metal), that anxiety is greatly amplified. With autonomous technology, serious software malfunctions are very unlikely, but the fear and anxiety of them being very real.
To avoid this, the system must always operate consistently. No matter how benign the unexpected behavior of the software, such as the wrong fonts or buttons not working properly, it can cause fundamental distrust in the system and make repairs very difficult. Again, CV Maker needs to test, test, and retest in all possible situations.
Clarity is the key
The moment when unmanned vehicles become ubiquitous may be a while away, but transitional autonomous driving technologies that can have a significant impact on improving the daily lives of commercial drivers and on highway safety are already here. I have.
These first steps in HMI design play an important role in building trust with the driver for a day when the driver can finally let go, close his eyes and relax.
About the Author: Paul Woods is the designer, author and chief executive officer of Edenspiekermann, a global design agency.
https://www.automotiveworld.com/articles/commercial-vehicle-hmi-must-build-trust-with-drivers/ Commercial vehicle HMI needs to build a relationship of trust with the driver