Mental Models of ADAS/ADS Technologies: Impacts on Consumer Education and Vehicle Design

Our goal is to determine the nature of, and variants of, drivers’ mental models of ADAS/ADS technologies and apply research findings to consumer to education and vehicle design.

The Problem 

New technologies are constantly being introduced to the vehicle interior, and drivers will have to learn how to operate the vehicle utilizing these new technologies. Safe and efficient use of new technologies can be influenced by how efficiently operators develop an appropriate level of understanding (a mental model) of their operation.

The Question

We are trying to determine the nature of -- and variants of -- drivers’ mental models of ADAS/ADS technologies. We’re trying to determine how drivers’ mental models are formed and how they change over time, along with the sources of these changes. Are there specific events that occur while driving, or is there certain exposure to other sources of information such as vehicle manuals, sales representatives, friends, Internet articles and videos, ads, etc. that provide more influence to vehicle owners?

What We Did

We looked at three different arms of research to better understand how consumers interact with in-vehicle technologies, including the following: 

1. Conducting a qualitative and survey research, complied from focus groups and large surveys, aimed at better understanding the sources of information that lead to development of mental models.

2. Lab, simulator and physiological research aimed at the collection objective measures of what is happening cognitively with vehicle occupants, using measures such as EEG, EKG, and FNIRS.

3. On-the-road research observing how drivers interact with technologies that may be new to them after purchasing a vehicle, and observation of changes in interaction that occur as drivers become familiar with these technologies over time.

The Result

Upon completion of our study in late 2019, through our analysis of how consumers come to understand vehicle technologies, we will be able to develop more  effective consumer education programs around in-vehicle technologies, along with in-vehicle technologies themselves. 

This is a project in partnership with George Mason University and The Rockville Institute