Driver-interface for transitions between automated and non-automated driving

Who would drive the future automated car?

Today, vehicles are available with advanced solutions for driving assistance and some systems even automate the driving task. Examples are Adaptive Cruise Control for remaining speed and keeping distance, or Automated Parallel Parking for manoeuvring the vehicle in an available parking spot. These systems are designed to ease the driver for specific circumstances.

Apart from these benefits, automation is also expected to contribute to solving mobility problems. The reasoning behind the expected advantages is generally that assistance systems are in comparison to human drivers superior with respect to precision of operation. Being more precise and having faster reaction times, automated cars are presumed to cause less accidents and therefore reduce congestion. If behavioural alterations are also taken into consideration, like driving with shorter following-distances, the advantages of automated driving become even more significant.

Applying automated driving

Demonstrations with prototype vehicles – for example: Darpa Urban Challenge – show already the technical capabilities for completely automated driving. Due to reasons of practicality, liability and user preferences automation of the complete driving task is, however, not likely to become reality in the mid-term future. For this reason there will exist transitions between human (driver) operation and system (vehicle) operation when specific driving tasks are automated.

Necessity of a driver-centred approach

Despite the developments for applying automated driving, solutions how to operate these transitions hardly give attention to the role of the driver. Development generally conveys the substitution of human driving operations by means of technical automation. Human Factors experts argue that partly automated driving also has drawbacks. If a driving task is supported by an assistance system, this could cause for example mental under­load and loss of skills, resulting in a decrease in driver reliability. In view of both the relevance automated driving has for solving mobility problems, and the expressed concerns, safe and comfortable transitions be­tween driver and system control are of considerable importance.

Therefore the goal within this PhD-research is to: Develop a driver-interface for transitions between automated and non-automated driving, optimized for user-acceptance. Special attention will be paid to distributing responsibility between driver and machine, keeping the driver ‘in-the-loop’ of vehicle-operation and adapting the interface according to a learning curve for driver’s skills.

Contact information

Arie Paul van den Beukel, MSc / phone +31 53 489 4853 /

Arie Paul van den Beukel (1975) studied Industrial Design Engineering and continued with a two-year post-master course Advanced Industrial Design Engineering, both at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. He finished his post-master course in 2001 with the development of an integrated driver-vehicle interface for operating information and entertainment functions in cars. The results were integrated within a concept car for automotive supplier Johnson Controls, Inc. and were successfully exhibited at the Frankfurt Motorshow 2001 in Germany. At Johnson Controls, Arie Paul started his professional career being an Interaction Designer. He continued as Senior Interaction Designer and received a position as Interface Developer at Ford of Europe (in Germany) in 2005.

In 2007 he started as an assistant professor at the University of Twente. In this position, he contributes to the design education of the Industrial Design Engineering curriculum with main emphasis on Human Factors and design of interactive products. In parallel to teaching, he researches the design and development of driver-interfaces for the transitions between assisted and non-assisted driving.