University of Southampton wins funding to study driver training for autonomous vehicles


The University of Southampton has become the first recipient of the IAM RoadSmart Human Factors Research Award, a £50,000 (US$65,900) grant for PhD research into automated vehicles’ potential impact on driver training.

Leading UK road safety charity IAM RoadSmart aims to raise the standard of driver training within the context of automated vehicles. The charity gave as an example aviation, where pilots of automated aircraft are required to undertake additional training after qualifying for non-automated craft, pointing out that no additional training is required for automated road transport. IAM stressed that the operation of increasingly more automated road vehicles is likely to require different skills and place different demands on drivers than the operation of existing manual vehicles.

Universities in the UK were invited to submit applications that looked at driver training as the world moves into an era of increasing automation of vehicles before progressing to fully driverless cars. In a closely fought contest, the winning submission was written by Neville Stanton and Katie Plant from the University of Southampton for their report, Training Implications for Drivers of Automated Vehicles. The winners collected their award at IAM RoadSmart’s Driver Ahead conference, which saw 140 industry leaders and experts discuss automotive future on the roads in the face of the move towards more autonomous vehicles.

Neil Greig, IAM research director, explained, “The operation of increasingly automated road vehicles is likely to require different skills and place different demands on drivers than the operation of manual vehicles. We suspect that the skills required for manual control of vehicles do not necessarily prepare people for supervision of vehicles with multiple control systems, and particularly for taking back control from fully automated vehicles.

“A program of doctoral research should aim to compare and contrast the different training requirements, as well as developing and validating a proposed driver-coaching scheme.”

Announcing the award winners, Prof. Angus Wallace, trustee of IAM RoadSmart, said, “All the applications were of a very high standard and could equally have won. The submission by the University of Southampton was very carefully thought through, presented very clearly and looked at improving training of drivers of intelligent vehicles. As such, we are delighted to announce it as our first winner.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).