Human centred design for the new driver role in highly automated vehicles

Significant research efforts are addressing driver performance and behaviour in automated driving conditions still requiring the driver to be prepared to assume control (SAE automation level 3 and lower). In highly automated driving conditions (SAE automation level 4) the role of the driver will change dramatically since driver intervention is not required during defined use cases. This means that during a single trip there will be a coexistence of different automated driving functions demanding various degrees of human attention. When a vehicle is in highly automated driving mode the driver may take on different behaviours. Solutions need to be developed and they have to ensure both a safe transfer between use cases with different automation levels and that drivers always have a very clear understanding about the degree of automation enabled in each situation.


Proposals for research and innovation should focus on the design of safe human-machine interfaces for vehicles with highly automated driving functions and the safe and controlled transfer between use cases of different SAE automation levels (between level 4 to/from levels 3 or 2) for all types of drivers.

The proposed actions should include all of the following aspects:

  • Research to characterise driver roles in SAE automation level 4 situations and for the transition between use cases with different automation levels. Upgrade of comprehensive models for driver behaviour/reaction, awareness, readiness and monitoring. Driver generational effects, considering in particular variations in IT usage experience and age, but also other cultural factors should be taken into account.
  • Impact assessment methods, especially for safety aspects, based on these models. The new relationship between driver and vehicle (mutual cooperation or even handover rather than continuous control) should be reflected, also considering the variety of activities a driver may engage in while the vehicle is in charge. Use cases where an operator controls the vehicle remotely may be included.
  • Develop easily understood solutions making it clear to the driver what is the operational capability (authority) of the automated mode or modes currently enabled, as well as ensuring safe and reliable function (re-)allocation and corresponding driver/operator readiness. Driver control handover, driver/operator state and impairment are among the aspects that should be considered and the intended driver reaction should be secured.
  • Demonstration of concept functionality in real world situations with various use cases and driving environments where automated systems receive and give back control from/to the driver.

Proposed actions should build on the knowledge and results of ongoing projects addressing human machine interactions of automated driving systems.

In line with the Union's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, international cooperation is encouraged. In particular, proposals should consider cooperation with projects or partners from the US, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and/or Australia. Proposals should foresee twinning with entities participating in projects funded by US DOT to exchange knowledge and experience and exploit synergies.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 4 to 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

  • Innovative solutions, concepts and algorithms for a safe human-machine interface of highly automated driving functions and for safe and controlled transfer between use cases of different automation levels.
  • Reduction of risks for driver behaviour related incidents by ensuring that drivers/operators are adequately alerted, made aware and engaged when the highly automated vehicle encounters situations or use cases that it cannot handle and thus will turn to lower automation levels.
  • The research will help achieve the European Transport White Paper "Vision Zero" objective by preventing road accidents caused by human errors. Once on the market the developed concepts and solutions will also contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; in particular goal 3.6. "By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents").

Cross-cutting Priorities

  • Socio-economic science and humanities
  • International cooperation
Date de candidature
Sciences sociales : Identités, genre et sexualités, Psychologie et sciences cognitives, Sociologie
Autres : Physique, mathématiques et ingénierie