Newcastle University research has shown that women respond more quickly and exhibit more stable takeover control than men in automated cars. The open-access study, published in Nature Scientific Reports, focused on level 3 automated vehicles (L3 AVs), which allow drivers to be completely disengaged from driving and perform non-driving related activities.
However, in L3 AVs human drivers’ intervention in the control of the vehicle may still be required in some situations, such as no signal or network connections, and places without complete road signage and markings.
The driving simulator study involved 76 drivers (33 females and 43 males), who were asked to take over control from L3 AVs in different weather conditions, with researchers measuring the timing and quality of takeover.
The results show that gender significantly affects takeover performance. Compared to men, women exhibited a smaller percentage of hasty takeovers and slightly faster reaction times as well as slightly more stable operation of the steering wheel.
3D scatterplots of time aspects of takeover and takeover quality for female and male drivers. Li et al.
Our research strengthens the importance of tackling inequality in the context of future mobility. To create user-friendly automated vehicles, the manufacturers and designers need to adopt inclusive practices which fully consider the needs, requirements, performance, and preferences of end-users from different demographic groups.
The next step, follow-up research is planned to explore gender differences in the needs and requirements associated with non-driving related tasks in Level 3 automated vehicles and investigate the effect of performing these tasks on end-users’ behavior and performance.— Dr Shuo Li, lead author
The results also highlight that more hands-on experience and teaching sessions could be provided to deepen the understanding of L3 AVs particularly at the point when the driver is required to retake manual control of the vehicle.
The researchers argue that design of the car interiors of L3 AVs should also take into account gender differences in the preferences of users for different non-driving related tasks, however the overriding requirement is to keep the required user interface and take-over tasks as simple as possible with a standard way of doing this irrespective of vehicle model.
Li, S., Blythe, P., Zhang, Y. et al. “Analysing the effect of gender on the human–machine interaction in level 3 automated vehicles.” Sci Rep 12, 11645 doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-16045-1