Drowsy Driving

NASA Research suggests Automated Vehicle Features may increase Drowsy Driving Risk

Follow Us:

Key Highlights:

  • The study was carried out to better understand how humans interact with autonomous systems
  • NASA’s research included participants in three separate experiments who underwent two 48-minute sessions in a driving simulator
  • The researchers used electrodes to observe the participants’ brain activity while also observing their eye movements

Increasing Complexity

One of the major issues in the automotive industry is drowsy driving. The risk, danger, and often tragic results of drowsy driving are alarming. Recently, NASA has investigated the elements that contribute to drowsy driving and how new automation technology may both assist and exacerbate the situation. 

Today’s vehicles are only partially automated, requiring the human driver to stay alert, monitor the road, and take over at a moment’s notice. According to a new study undertaken by the Fatigue Countermeasures Lab at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, this passive role can make drivers more susceptible to sleepiness, especially when they are sleep deprived.

The research was carried out to better understand how humans interact with autonomous systems, such as those utilised in aircraft and spaceflight systems. The findings will help the agency’s research into the safe introduction of automation in aviation and the increasing complexity of modern technologies. They also suggest that drowsy drivers may be an essential factor in the safe introduction of self-driving technologies in automobiles.

Using Electrodes to Monitor Participants 

Autonomous systems are becoming increasingly widespread in both aviation and spaceflight, with some pilots’ report using autopilot as a backup when dealing with sleepiness during a flight. Since driving is similar to flying in many respects, and drivers are far more common than pilots, the lab decided to study them first.

NASA’s research involved participants in three distinct experiments who underwent two 48-minute sessions in a driving simulator. In one circumstance, they had complete control of the simulator’s steering wheel, gas pedal, and brake. In another, participants employed self-driving mode and had no control over vehicle dynamics, but were instructed to maintain their hands on the steering wheel while monitoring the car. The researchers used electrodes to monitor the participants’ brain activity while also monitoring their eye movements.

The results showed that while participants were supervising – rather than actively operating – the vehicle, participants reported feeling sleepier and showed increased indications of “nodding off.” They also demonstrated slower reaction times as compared to actively operating the car. And the more sleep-deprived a person was, the stronger these impacts were.

“The bottom line is not that self-driving cars are more or less safe than manually driving,” said Erin Flynn-Evans, director of the Fatigue Countermeasures Lab. “It’s that when people don’t get enough sleep, they are vulnerable in both driving scenarios,” he added.

Also Read: World’s largest Camera or a look into the cosmos?



Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Scroll to Top

Hire Us To Spread Your Content

Fill this form and we will call you.