Principal Investigator: Patrice Tremoulet, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THIS PROJECT?
We wanted to prepare for a world where children may ride unaccompanied in autonomous vehicles to get to school or soccer practice or in emergency situations. We conducted an exploratory study involving 19 parents of 8- to 16-year-olds where they took rides in our driving simulator in both manual and autonomous modes. Then, some of their children rode alone in the back seat of the simulator in autonomous mode. We then interviewed them about their rides and their perceptions about autonomous cars.
WHAT DID YOU FIND AND WERE ANY RESULTS SURPRISING?
Over 60 percent of parents said they would be comfortable riding in an autonomous car either alone or with their child; but, only about 20 percent would be comfortable with their child riding alone in one. What was most surprising: Parents want a safe haven in case the vehicle can’t get to the pre-programmed destination, such as a police station or public library. As a society, we will have to figure out how to provide this infrastructure for both unaccompanied children and passengers with disabilities.
WHAT ARE THE INDUSTRY IMPLICATIONS FOR THIS RESEARCH?
Our results can be used to guide additional research efforts to inform autonomous vehicle design. For example, children want speech-based interaction, and parents want communications from autonomous vehicles to keep them informed when their children are riding unaccompanied, such as an alarm if a child is not buckled up and a notification when the child arrives at the destination.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THIS LINE OF RESEARCH?
We would like to develop a vocabulary of spoken commands and queries that children could be trained to use when communicating with autonomous vehicles. In addition, we would like to develop passenger training for safe use of autonomous vehicles.
Thomas Seacrist, MBE, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Helen Loeb, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Chelsea Ward McIntosh, MS, CCRP, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Saniyah Shaikh, University of Pennsylvania; Michelle Shen, University of Pennsylvania
Doug Longhitano, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Russ Davidson, Lear Corporation; Lorrie Walker, Safe Kids Worldwide; Barbara Birkenshaw, Volkswagen Group of America; Julie Kleinert, Technical Advisor; Uwe Meissner, Technical Advisor