FLOURISH: User Needs and Experience

4 January 2019

User needs and experience is a key aspect of FLOURISH. This focus is helping to shape and inform the CAV developments undertaken by the FLOURISH partners, who are working to improve connectivity and mobility in the future.

A key strength of the FLOURISH user trials research approach is the inclusion of user groups within the design processes: in terms of informing the design of the CAV in-vehicle technology (e.g. human-machine interface/HMI) and the trials (e.g. journeys, driving conditions). FLOURISH’s target population sector is older adults and other individuals who are unable to drive a vehicle due to physical, sensory or cognitive impairments, either now or in the near future. At each stage of the trials process, FLOURISH has engaged with our target population in relation to, for example, what they would like a CAV HMI to offer in terms of accessibility, usability, functionality and adaptability, and findings have influenced subsequent designs. FLOURISH is also developing a tool known as a standardised assessment framework to collect lots of data on, for example, participants’ personalities, cognitive abilities, and data sharing behaviours in order for us to develop more bespoke HMIs in the near future.   

Findings from simulator trial 1, with a basic HMI, revealed that participants’ awareness of the situation (e.g. current, recent and near future) decreased with experience of being in the CAV simulator, although cognitive load was higher the less usable they felt the HMI was. Simulator trial 2 involved a more immersive simulation experience and HMI with other features including audio-notifications as well as night and day scenarios.  Overall, FLOURISH participants found the CAV journeys a positive experience with increasing trust, based on their HMI interaction and journey experience. As expected, multimodal feedback improved ease of operation and journey experience. More information about the first two simulator trials can be found in the FLOURISH Mid-Project Trials Report.

Pod trial 1 took place over the summer of 2018 with positive experiences reported by a number of participants. It involved a developmental vehicle travelling autonomously at very low speeds, although there were some technical issues that have since been rectified within a more recent pod trial (number 2) involving a newer vehicle. Make sure you keep an eye out for the results of Pod Trial 2, which will be released in Spring 2019!  

Authored by Dr Phillip Morgan – Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Science and Human Factors and Director of the Human Factors Excellence Research Group, School of Psychology, Cardiff University

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