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Understanding how Automated Vehicles should communicate: using distributed simulation to explore interactions with on-board users and the world outside.

Faculty of Environment

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Dr R Madigan , Prof NM Merat No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

As we edge ever closer to the rollout of automated vehicles (AVs), there is a growing interest in how these vehicles will interact with humans, both AV “drivers” and external road users. The lack of an “in control driver” in the more advanced versions of such vehicles, combined with new (unfamiliar) vehicle movement patterns, mean that other road users will not be able to use conventional cues such as eye contact/hand movements and/or driving style, to interpret the behaviour of the AV. Therefore, understanding the requirements of external road users (drivers of manually driven cars, and pedestrians/cyclists) when interacting with these AVs is of tremendous interest to vehicle manufacturers, transport planners, and road safety experts alike. The proposed supervision team have been at the forefront of this research field for the past 15+ years, investigating pedestrian and driver interaction requirements in on-road, simulator, and test-track settings (see reference list attached). However, there are still many questions to be answered, particularly in relation to understanding the three-way interaction between the AV, the on-board user (“driver”), and external road users (other drivers/pedestrians/cyclists). This PhD research will use Virtuocity’s world-leading distributed simulation facilities to provide a unique opportunity for tackling the above research question. Participants acting as on-board AV users in the driving simulator can interact with pedestrian participants in the HIKER (pedestrian) lab in real-time Virtual Reality studies, providing unique insight into the behaviours that take place between humans interacting in different vehicle/pedestrian scenarios. The knowledge gained through these experiments can be used to develop more intuitive AV communication solutions, accelerating their integration into the mixed traffic environments of our future cities.

Funding Notes

EPSRC DTP 3.5 years awards for British nationals who meet the residency requirements; settled and pre-settled EU nationals; and those with ILTR in the UK. There is up to one award for an overseas applicant, although you are recommended to speak with the project supervisor before applying if you are in the overseas fees category.
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