Professor Natasha Merat

Professor Natasha Merat


Professor Merat is an experimental psychologist and research group leader of the Human Factors and Safety Group, @ITS Leeds. She also leads the Automation theme, at Leeds and is responsible for the strategic direction of research conducted @Virtuocity. Her main research interests are in understanding the interaction of road users with new technologies.  She applies this interest to studying factors such as driver distraction and driver impairment, and she is an internationally recognised expert in studying the human factors implications of highly automated vehicles. She is currently involved in six UK and European Projects on automated vehicles. In the AdaptIVe project, she is studying drivers’ ability to resume control from automation in critical situations, investigating how this transition is achieved quickly and safely.  For CityMobil2, Professor Merat conducted pioneering work to investigate pedestrians’ perceptions and views of fully automated low speed vehicles, during live demonstrations, work which she is continuing as part of the H2020 project: InterACT.  She is also PI to the CCAV/Innovate UK project HumanDrive. Professor Merat is co-chair of the TRB sub-committee on Human Factors in Road Vehicle Automation, task leader of a tri-lateral working group on human factors of automation, leading activities between EU-US-Japan, and has advisory board roles for Veoneer Inc., Highways England, the EC’s H2020 Transport Advisory Group, and Zenzic, which “supports the acceleration of the UK’s emerging connected and autonomous vehicle sector within the global transport ecosystem with resources to enable profitable growth”.

Visiting Positions and Professional Engagements

  • Advisory board member: Veoneer Inc.
  • Steering Group member Centre for Connected and Automated Vehicles, DfT
  • Adjunct Professor, Public Policy Centre, University of Iowa
  • Visiting Fellow, Mobile Robotics Group, University of Oxford
  • Director: Transport Systems Hub, University of Leeds, 2011-2015
  • WG member: EC iMobility group on Highly Automated Driving, 2012-2018
  • Guest Editor, Special section of Transportation Research Part F., on Vehicle automation and driver behaviour
  • Guest Editor: Special issue of Human Factors on Automation in Vehicles, 2012
  • Elected Director of the Executive Council, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Europe Chapter, 2011 to 2020
  • Member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Europe Chapter (2005 to date)
  • Working Party Member of Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (2003 to 2015)
  • Member of the British Psychological Society (2000 to 2020)
  • Treasurer, Cognitive Section, British Psychological Society (2000-2004)

Employment History

  • 2013-2016, Associate Professor
  • 2004-2013, Senior Research Fellow, ITS, University of Leeds
  • 2002-2004, Research Fellow, ITS, University of Leeds
  • 1999-2002, Research Fellow, Department of Psychology, University of Surrey
  • 1998-1999, Research Fellow, Cognitive Neuroscience Group, Unilever Research

Research Projects and Experience

  • HiDrive (EC, ITS PI, 2021-2025)
  • PedSim (EPSRC ITS CoI, 2017-2020)
  • L3Pilot (EC, ITS PI, 2017-2021)
  • HumanDrive (IUK, ITS PI, 2017-2020)
  • TRANSITION (EPSRC, ITS CoI, 2017-2020)
  • interACT (EC, ITS PI, 2017-2020)
  • CARTRE (EC, ITS CoI, 2016-2018)
  • VRA: Vehicle Road Automation (EC, ITS PI - 2013-2017)
  • AdaptIVe (EC, ITS PI, 2014-2017)
  • FORWARN: towards an intelligent forward collision warning system (PI, 2012-2016, EPSRC)
  • CityMobil2 (EC, ITS PI, 2012-2016)
  • Transport Research Knowledge Centre (EC, PI, 2009-2010)
  • Low-cost innovative engineering measures to reduce fatigue-related accidents (PI, 2007-2009, Highways Agency)
  • CityMobil (EC, PM, 2006-2011)
  • EASY: Effects of Automated Systems on Safety (EPSRC, CoI, 2006-2009)
  • AIDE: Adaptive Integrated Driver-Vehicle Interface (EC, PM, 2004-2008)
  • HASTE: HMI And the Safety of Traffic in Europe (EC, PM, 2002-2005)

For a list of my publications see also Google scholar:

Past teaching includes lectures on Theories of Attention to 3rd year undergraduate students in the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

I also supervise ITS Masters student dissertations on a variety of topics involving driver behaviour.  Examples of past topics inlcude:

  • Acceptability of Intelligent Speed Adaptation for Young Drivers
  • Is the driving test related to real world driving?
  • Does personality influence engagement in mobile phone tasks?
  • Using video recordings to analyse conflicts bewteen drivers, cyclists and pedestrians

Past and Present PhD Students

  • George Kountoriotis (Graduated 2012), co supervised with Richard Wilkie from the School of Psychology, Thesis title: 'Gaze direction and visual information when steering'. 
  • Nick Herbert (Graduated 2016) co supervised by Nick Thyer from the School of Healthcare in Leeds. Title of Thesis: Hearing Impairment and Driving Performance
  • Tyron Louw (Graduated 2017). Thesis Title: Human Factors of Transitions in Highly Automated Driving, as part of the AdaptIVe projectPanagiotis Spyridakos, co supervised by Gustav Markkula, Human Machine Interface (HMI) evaluation in driving - effect of HMI tasks on safety and performance of the driver.
  • Anderson Etika is sponsored by the Nigerian Government and is studying speed choice in Nigerian fleet drivers
  • Yvonne Taylor co supervised by Samantha Jamson from ITS. Yvonne is a full-time police officer and a part-time student who will be studying fatigue and work related accidents.


  • Research Group Leader
  • Human Factors and Safety Group
  • Founder, Virtuocity@Leeds

Research interests

  • Human factors of highly automated driving
  • HMI design
  • Driver behaviour, especially driver distraction and the influence of new technologies in driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Older drivers and technology
  • Train driver distraction and workload
  • Psychophysiological measures of driver behaviour
  • Multisensory integration, especially crossmodal links between audition, vision and touch.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Psychology, University of Leeds
  • BSc (Hons), Physiology, University of Leeds

Research groups and institutes

  • Human Factors and Safety

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>