The Influence of Vehicle Automation on Visual Attention and Situation Awareness

Stuart Hyde

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The increasing prevalence of vehicle automation and, in the future, fully autonomous vehicles, creates a need for research into the likely effects of this significant change to the way we drive. This thesis examines the likely impacts of increasing automation on driver attention and situation awareness. Chapter 1 provides a general overview of the topic and the research questions. Chapter 2 presents the first experiment, which measures hazard detection performance under different levels of load in a secondary task. Chapter 3 presents a second similar experiment using an older (70+ years) population. Chapter 4 presents a third experiment which again repeated the first study but this time in a young, inexperienced driving population (18-20 years). Chapter 5 then presents a direct comparison of the results of the three previous studies. Chapter 6 describes a large simulator-based study to examine the visual attention and situation awareness of drivers after they take over driving following a period of autonomous driving. Driver performance is assessed using a range of eye tracking and behavioural measures. Chapter 7 is the final empirical chapter, presenting the results of an online survey aimed at understanding people’s trust and acceptance of vehicle automation. Chapter 8 constitutes a general discussion in which all study results are reviewed and their implications discussed. Overall, this thesis uses a range of different experimental methods to demonstrate that drivers' attention and situation awareness is likely to be significantly affected by differing types and levels of vehicle automation. This will be an important consideration for the designers of automated systems and vehicles in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Dalton, Polly, Supervisor
  • Stevens, Alan, Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018


  • Visual attention
  • Situation Awareness
  • Hazard Perception
  • Autonomous Driving
  • Eye Movements

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