Updating our understanding of situation awareness in relation to remote operators of autonomous vehicles

Clare Mutzenich, Szonya Durant, Shaun Helman, Polly Dalton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The introduction of autonomous vehicles (AVs) could prevent many accidents attributable to human driver error. However, even entirely driverless vehicles will sometimes require remote human intervention. Current taxonomies of automated driving do not acknowledge the possibility of remote control of AVs or the challenges that are unique to a driver in charge of a vehicle that they are not physically occupying. Yet there are significant differences between situation awareness (SA) in normal driving contexts and SA in remote driving operations. Remote Vehicle Operators (RVOs) will have limited prior awareness of the situation and will be reliant on second-hand information from the scene. SA in the remote scenario is therefore likely to be poorer and take longer to develop. We argue that the established understanding of automated driving requires updating to include the context of remote operation. We emphasise the importance of designing control interfaces in a way that will maximise remote SA and we identify some principles for designing systems aimed at increasing an RVO’s sense of embodiment in the AV that they are controlling.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalCognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Early online date19 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Feb 2021

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