Above: Instrumented car simulation system, used in characterization of human-car interactions.
While the creation of fully-autonomous cars — requiring no human input whatsoever — is a popular area of research, these vehicles will be operating in an environment with pedestrians, passengers, and other human drivers. Thus, the HART Lab takes a human-centered approach to the design of intelligent vehicles and is exploring both semiautonomous and fully autonomous systems.
The vast majority of drivers now (and in the foreseeable future) remain human. The goal of this project is to develop a system that can determine the driver’s state (attentive, partially attentive, or distracted) and decide when to intervene.
To accomplish this, the driver and the car are abstracted as a “human-in-the-loop” system, in which a number of sensors are used to track the driver’s motion and gaze. These sensor readings are then compared against (and incorporated into) a database of past readings and their corresponding car trajectories to predict what the driver may potentially do next. Based on this information, the system can decide whether to take over the vehicle or allow the driver to remain in control. (Image: Driver monitoring system in car simulator.)
While the semiautonomous system above characterizes the interactions between a single driver and their vehicle, the HART Lab is also exploring the interactions between multiple human drivers and fully autonomous vehicles on the road. Using ideas from reachable set theory and legible motion, we aim to improve safety in these interactions by implementing autonomous control systems that act in a way that other drivers expect. (Image: Autonomous car (red) using human-controlled car's estimated reachable set to make a decision when changing lanes.)
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