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We are in a transition towards highly and fully automated vehicles. Highly automated vehicles can drive in automation mode for part of the trip, while fully automated vehicles drive you all the way from door to door in automated mode. In automated mode, the ‘driver’ is out of the loop and can relax or do other things – the vehicle is fully in control of the driving. In some cases there even is no driver, such as in the driverless shuttles or delivery robots, in these cases a remote controller oversees the vehicles from a distance to handle unexpected events.

Apart from the technological challenges to progress this transition, for the implementation and adoption of those vehicles it is of major importance to shape the interaction with the other traffic participants in a safe and smooth manner. Other traffic participants, such as pedestrians, cyclist and manually operated vehicles, need to know what they can expect from the automated vehicle. Did it detect me? Will it give way if I cross the road? Will it keep sufficient distance if it overtakes me?


Based on what we see in trials, a specific challenge faced in the interaction is when ‘other road users’ try to provoke automated vehicles, to explore how it responds to different behaviour. Some of such cases seem to be part of a natural learning process, people are exploring what they can expect in certain situations, but we’ve also seen cases of bullying and vandalism.

The question is how the vehicle should deal with such interactions. The safest mode of operation is to keep low speeds, keep large distances from other road users or objects and come to a full stop in case of a blocked road or any uncertainty about the situation. However, for the automated vehicle this may cause a lot of interruptions leading to long trip times, uncertainties if it will arrive at its destination at all, and even possible problems for other road users.

The challenge is to develop interaction designs for dealing with these provoking behaviours, in order to enhance safe and smooth interaction with other road users as well as reliable progress/trip times. The question is: how do we design the interaction of vehicles in automation mode to cater for meaningful and effective interactions, while coping with or mitigating provoking behaviours? In this project you will explore different use cases of provoking behaviours towards automated vehicles. You will select a relevant use-case, or several use-cases, and develop a repertoire of interaction designs dealing with provoking behaviours towards vehicles in automation mode. You will explore qualities of the different designs and propose novel interaction styles, and determine which of these are experienced as most effective and why.

Student profile and project context

This project is suitable for a student with an interest in human robot interaction and/or vehicle automation. The project is experimental, combining research and design explorations. We envision the project could make use of several different methodologies, including explorations with enactments (e.g. in a big box), VR prototyping, iterative design loops with a Think Out Loud protocol, (systematic) evaluations of behavioural patterns and parameters.

The project can be started at any time. If you want, it is possible to combine this graduation project with a research elective.

The project is co-hosted by the department of Applied Innovation at RDW and it can both be performed either at RDW in Zoetermeer of together with RDW. RDW is the national Dutch vehicle authority, in charge of admitting new vehicles to the European roads. The department of Applied Innovation focuses on knowledge and product development for the development of new legislation, new licensing frameworks and approaches for the implementation and assessment of vehicle innovation. The knowledge gained through the current project is important, as it contributes to RDW’s knowledge base to ensure the safe introduction of automated vehicles.

The student is proficient in either Dutch, English, or both. At RDW both languages are spoken within the Applied Innovation department, as we are working in an international context.

Interested? Want to know more?

Contact Nicole van Nes or dr. Jered Vroon

Nicole van Nes

Prof. dr. ir. Nicole van Nes