Research into human-automation interaction given the green light

ITS academic, Dr Gustav Markkula, awarded prestigious EPSRC fellowship to research safe coexistence of humans and self-driving vehicles.

The focus of Dr Markkula’s fellowship will be to enhance the development of automated vehicles by investigating and modelling how humans behave and interact in traffic. Using a multidisciplinary approach, with co-investigators from the School of Computing (Dr Matteo Leonetti) and School of Psychology (Dr Jac Billington), Dr Markkula aims to build on existing models of driver and pedestrian behaviour, extending them with methods and knowledge from cognitive neuroscience and machine learning.

Dr Markkula explains: “Comprehensive safety testing of self-driving vehicles requires a large amount of computer simulation, to cover the vast range of possible traffic situations that can occur. However, when it comes to complex, interactive situations, we do not yet have good models of human behaviour to put in the simulations.”

As Deputy Group Leader of the Human Factors & Safety Group at the University, Dr Markkula has extensive experience in driver behaviour research as well as industry experience.

Two project partners will provide advisory support as well as first uptake of the developed models; Aimsun, a leading provider of mobility modelling software and services, and Five AI, a UK startup developing an autonomous shared transport service for European cities, starting in London. Dr. Markkula also aims to engage with wider circles of stakeholders:

“Safe, human-centric development and deployment of automated vehicles will require successful involvement of a diverse set of industrial actors, as well as regulatory bodies. One important part of the fellowship will be to interact with these stakeholders, not least my project partners, to help me shape the research work, and to spread the word and raise awareness of the importance of these issues.“

An ESPRC fellowship is a personal award, designed to support the recipient in establishing themselves as a future leader in their research area, and is awarded to those who are delivering the highest quality research to meet the UK and global priorities.

You can read more about the fellowship here.