Category Archives: Surface Transportation

parallel parked car

What Is The Automation Doing? Mode Awareness Problems Catch Tesla By Surprise

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One of the most compelling arguments for introducing autonomous driving vehicles is the potential reduction in injuries and fatalities caused primarily by human error. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, human error accounts for 94% of fatal crashes, and advanced safety technologies can be expected to reduce these numbers substantially.

However, at the end of April this year, there was an incident in which a Tesla Model S, from a parked position, collided with a trailer parked in front of it after the “Summon” autopark feature was activated. With Summon, the driver can exit the car and make it roll slowly forward or backward into a tight parking space using the key or an app. The incident caused only about $700 in damage to the luxury car’s windshield, but this incident might be a symptom of a greater problem.

Runway Incursion

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Runway incursion is a huge issue in the United States (US). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines a runway incursion as “Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take off of aircraft.”

robot doctor

Intelligence Amplification

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Everyone’s excited and/or scared about artificial intelligence but should we be excited and/or scared about Intelligence Amplification instead?

I have been interested in this dichotomy for a long time, especially in health care . Socio-culturally, there are many reasons why we don’t accept fully autonomous systems, even when they are safer, faster, and more effective. The DTNS hosts use the example of elevators where a human operator was necessary for several years before we were willing to accept automation, even when they weren’t really doing anything except hitting buttons. We see it now with cars and drones.

miltary tank

User Experience for a Volatile World

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Every year, it seems that the “experts” say that there is a new normal. Things are different this time. The world has fundamentally changed. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed. The increasing velocity of change. Eric McNulty has a good summary of what I mean in a recent Strategy+Business.

From regular triple-digits swings in the market to the rapid rise of often profit-free unicorns valued at US$1 billion or more, a possible exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the devolution of the once-hopeful Arab Spring into the chaos of the Syrian civil war, and turmoil from Libya to the Ukraine, this isn’t just a VUCA world anymore; it’s becoming ever more VUCA.

Autonomous Car

Social Graces in AI

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You have probably read a lot of coverage of ethics in AI design. We will be covering that here next week. But in the meantime, I came across a related issue that I wanted to share – whether we need AI to understand social conventions. In particular, there are two domains that leapt out at me. One is with humanoid robots that use emotional responses to establish rapport with their users and to be more effective at activities like health care support. We have talked…

texting while driving

HUDs Don’t Solve the Problem

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My Take I have been following the public debates about distracting driving and cell phone use with some dismay. The biggest problem seems to be the intuitive attractiveness of handsfree cell phone usage. The general public wants to use their cell phones while driving. But the distraction they cause is hard to deny. So hands free is a very alluring solution. And since they don’t know much about cognitive attention and distraction, the fact that the driver can keep his or her eyes on the…

women texting and walking

Texting While Walking

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Results suggest that (a) texting is as unsafe as phone conversations for street-crossing performance and (b) when subjects completed most of the texting task before initiating crossing, they were more likely to make it safely across the street.

We shouldn’t be surprised that texting while crossing the street is dangerous. Do we need a study to show us? Since so many people do it, perhaps we do.

Elecrical vehicle charging

2015 Human Factors Prize Winner

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You know that sinking feeling you get when the low fuel light comes on in your car and you are driving down a rural highway in the middle of nowhere? That is range stress – the fear that your car doesn’t have the remaining range to reach the nearest energy source.

Range stress is one of the primary bottlenecks in the spread of battery powered electric cars. Many current models can go almost as far as gasoline powered cars, but if there are no battery stations around, that still doesn’t help. If the range of the battery is 300 miles but there are only public battery stations every 1000 miles . . .

bicycle

Park & Pedal

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The idea behind this design is quite clever. There are some people who are hardcore cyclists and will ride no matter what. There are even more people who will not bike no matter what. But there are millions of people in the middle who are among the “convertibles”. They are willing to consider it, at least some of the time. But it depends on the weather, the traffic, the convenience, and other factors. It is a simple case of motivational psychology. Perceived coherence of the context, perceived value of the benefits, perceived social status and norms, and so on.

Park & Pedal aims to ease traffic congestion into the city each morning as commuters clamber to make it to their jobs on time.It’s also meant to inspire more people to get out and exercise.

Man in chair with headrest

Bring Your Own Headrest

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We are all familiar with the workarounds that people use to improve the ergonomics of their spaces. At work we have footrests made out of books, boxes, and other random objects. The biggest loss of the smartphone era is that we have no phonebooks to raise our kids up to the dining room table. Back supports rummaged from garage sale couch cushions. These are great indications that the original design is lacking and a fantastic source of ideas for how to improve the design.