Investigating user activities and the corresponding requirements for information and functions in autonomous vehicles of the future

Pinyan Tang, Xu Sun, Shi Cao

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The potential benefits of autonomous vehicles, including safety, convenience, fuel economy, and low emissions can only be achieved when consumers are comfortable with the vehicle design. There are only a limited number of user studies in the design of future autonomous vehicles, owing to the difficulties of shifting focus “from the present to the future.” An integrated method of simulator study and user enactment was applied in the research to bridge the gap between the current and the future. Thirty drivers participated in the study to experience enacted driving scenarios in an autonomous vehicle simulator. The participants were divided into two groups, i.e., driving-alone drivers and driving-with-a-passenger drivers, to investigate the effect of passenger presence. Rich data were elicited about possible in-vehicle activities, the corresponding requirements of information and functions to support any such activities. Also identified were the preferred methods of interacting with the information and functions. Passenger presence was found to have an influence on the attributes of activities undertaken as well as the preferences for in-vehicle information and functions. Dominant themes were identified in future autonomous vehicle designs, including a more flexible and adaptive design language, concerns of trust and safety, and trade-offs between safety and convenience and between privacy and social connection. Based on the findings, design implications for future autonomous vehicles are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103044
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Driver-vehicle interaction
  • In-vehicle activities
  • Passenger presence
  • User requirements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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