Habits, attitudes, and expectations of regular users of partial driving automation systems
Introduction: Little is known about regular users’ perceptions of partial (Level 2) automation or how those perceptions affect behind-the-wheel behavior. Method: A mixed mode (phone and online) survey explored the habits, expectations, and attitudes among regular users of General Motors Super Cruise (n = 200), Nissan/Infiniti ProPILOT Assist (n = 202), and Tesla Autopilot (n = 202). Results: All three groups reported being more likely to engage in non-driving-related activities while using their systems than while driving unassisted. Super Cruise and Autopilot users especially were more likely to report engaging in activities that involved taking their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road. Many Super Cruise and Autopilot users also said they could perform secondary (non-driving-related) tasks better and more often while using their systems, while fewer ProPILOT Assist users shared this opinion. Super Cruise users were most likely and ProPILOT Assist users least likely to think that secondary activities were safer to perform while using their systems. While some drivers said they found user safeguards (e.g., attention reminders, lockouts) annoying and tried to circumvent them, most people said they found them helpful and felt safer with them. Large percentages of users (53% Super Cruise, 42% Autopilot, and 12% ProPILOT Assist) indicated they were comfortable treating their systems as self-driving. Conclusions: Some regular users have a poor understanding of their technology’s limits. System design appears to contribute to user perceptions and behavior. However, owner populations also differ, which means habits, attitudes, and expectations may not generalize. Most people value user safeguards, but some implementations may not be effective for everyone. Practical applications: Multifaceted, proactive user-centric safeguards are needed to shape proper behavior and understanding about drivers’ roles and responsibilities while using partial driving automation.