Automated driving reduces perceived workload, but monitoring causes higher cognitive load than manual driving

Driver mental workload is an important factor in the operational safety of automated driving. In this study, workload was evaluated subjectively (NASA R-TLX) and objectively (auditory detection-response task) on Dutch public highways (∼150 km) comparing manual and supervised automated driving in a Tesla Model S with moderators automation experience and traffic complexity. Participants (N = 16) were either automation-inexperienced drivers or automation-experienced Tesla owners. Complexity ranged from an engaging environment with a road geometry stimulating continuous traffic interaction, and a monotonic environment with lower traffic density and a simple road geometry. Perceived and objective workload increased with traffic complexity. When using the automation, automation-experienced drivers perceived a lower workload, while automation-inexperienced drivers perceived their workload to be similar to manual driving. However, the detection-response task indicated an increase in cognitive load with automation, in particular in complex traffic. This indicates that drivers under-estimate the actual task load of attentive monitoring. The findings also highlight the relevance of using system-experienced participants and the importance of incorporating both objective and subjective measures when examining workload.


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  • Accession Number: 01691421
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 14 2018 3:07PM