Automated driving promises to increase traffic safety, provide a high level of driving comfort, and improve traffic efficiency. In order to achieve these goals, it is essential to develop automated driving following a human-centered approach. Research on highly usable interaction concepts and their design allows to adequately meet user needs and assure high acceptance and safe and comfortable use. The main focus of the research group is therefore on the interaction and communication between human and vehicle covering both internal (passenger(s) – vehicle) and external (vehicle – other road users) interaction. Thus, aspects of cognitive ergonomics as well as anthropometrics play an important role and are addressed by scientists with both engineering and psychological background.

While partially automated vehicles are already available on the market, the evolutionary development of such systems of higher levels of automation continues. The changing role of the driver to a (temporary) passenger with highly and fully automated driving alters requirements for internal human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and opens up completely new possibilities for the design of controls and interior design. In addition, the need for safe and comfortable transitions between manual and automated driving (and vice versa) requires scientific investigation. For this purpose, numerous takeover studies have been conducted in the last decade. While these studies have been mainly limited to highway driving, the transferability of such results on rural roads and cities needs to be addressed. In order to benefit from engaging in non-driving related activities (NDRAs), it is necessary to investigate how they can be planned appropriately and what restrictions users are willing to accept (e.g., driving time extension). Additionally, with an increasing market penetration of automated vehicles, the question of long-term effects arises for both usage behavior of passengers and behavior of surrounding road user. In this context, it is important to consider how the misuse of automated vehicles can be prevented. Individual user differences could further increase the need for adaptive HMIs. Furthermore, the activities of this research group put a strong emphasis on the acceptance of automated driving functions.

However, not only the communication between passenger and vehicle changes, but also between vehicle and other road users e.g., pedestrians, cyclists, and car drivers. With the passenger potentially being out of the loop, effective interaction via such external or dynamic HMIs is of great importance, especially in traffic scenarios where a clear traffic regulation is missing. In particular, further research is needed on how to address specific road users with a large number of potential addressees in dense traffic.

Since the transformation of individual automobile traffic as well as the commercial vehicle industry is being driven not only by the development of automated driving, but also by the need for energy-efficient vehicles and the introduction of new mobility or business concepts (e.g., shared mobility), the “Automated Driving” research group is in close dialogue with the research groups on “Energy Efficiency and Climate Comfort” and “New Mobility”. In considering automated vehicles as part of the overall traffic system, the “Automated Driving” research group also aims to further investigate the extent to which automated vehicles can contribute to traffic safety.

The “Automated Driving” group is not only working on design of interaction and communication of future automated vehicles, but also on the suitability and requirements of certain assessment and evaluation methods, e.g. Wizard-of-Oz vehicle or augmented reality. In general, we make use of various tools: User-centered design methods like workshops and small-scale user studies are used alongside classical driving simulator, virtual reality and on-road studies, as well as agile methods like design thinking or methods for the development of future scenarios. With its broad knowledge and research efforts, the group can also contribute to standardization efforts.