University of Massachusetts Amherst

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MIE Seminar Series: The Role of Human Factors in the Future of Transportation


Monday, February 26, 2018 - 9:00am


Dr. Anuj K. Pradhan, University of Michigan


Kellogg Room, Elab II


Motor vehicle crash related injuries and fatalities in the US is very high. Lately, the advent of advanced vehicle technologies and vehicle automation offer promises of great reduction in motor vehicle crashes, but it is widely recognized that significant challenges still need to be overcome before these benefits are widely realized. One of these challenges has to do with the human factor.

Human factors research can contribute towards improving the transportation safety record, especially in terms of advanced technologies, by examining the role of the human in transportation safety and the relationship between the human and the physical, environmental, and social elements of motor vehicle crashes. Human behaviors, capabilities, and limitations can be examined as it relates to future transportation climates using innovative research methodologies. This can help us understand the human factor: human behaviors, reactions, and decisions, all of which can be leveraged to improve humans’ interactions with transportation systems and increase efficiencies of safety design in vehicle technologies. This can lead to technological, educational, and policy innovations for improving the road safety record, maximizing benefits from technology, and ultimately reducing injuries and fatalities.

This presentation will focus on the role of the Human Factor in the future of transportation. As advanced vehicle technologies emerge, it is evident that additional issues are being raised that have not yet been adequately studied, or even quite defined. Thus, although the broad focus of this presentation will be on driver safety, it will specifically address the impact of the current technological advances on driving safety, given the promise of automated and connected vehicles, and the opportunities or pitfalls provided by the current progress in technological development, legislative actions, and public awareness. This presentation will also address the various obstacles that advanced vehicle technologies will face, especially those related to the human factor, obstacles that have yet to be sufficiently studied and overcome by the scientific and engineering communities. This presentation will thus discuss the challenges that will arise as automation assumes responsibility, or shares responsibility, for driving tasks that were traditionally performed by human drivers. These include issues related to the role and responsibility of the driver in a partially automated vehicle; the mental models that drivers should form about advanced vehicle technologies so that they understand their capabilities and limitations accurately; the training and education that may be required for users of such technologies; or, whether driver individual characteristics such as age and experience will impact their usage and acceptance of such systems.


Dr. Anuj K. Pradhan is an assistant research scientist in the Human Factors group at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). He has an MS and a PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and was a postdoctoral visiting fellow under the Intramural Research Training Award program at the National Institutes of Health prior to joining the University of Michigan.

Dr. Pradhan’s research aims to understand the etiology of injuries and fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes from a human factors and behavioral standpoint. His current research focus is on driver behavior and transportation safety with respect to advanced vehicle technologies and automated and connected vehicles, with an emphasis on human factors of vehicle automation, driver education and training, and trust and acceptance of automation. He is working on a number of research projects in these areas using various approaches and methodologies including driving simulation, test tracks, naturalistic methods, and observational methods.

Dr. Pradhan has a substantial publication record in the field and serves as peer reviewer for human factors and transportation related journals & conferences. He also actively serves on various scientific committees, and has organized and chaired various workshops and sessions in national conferences. He was recently the Chair for the Surface Transportation Technical Group of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society from 2014-2016. He currently serves on the Transportation Research Board Technical Activities Standing Committee for Simulation and Vehicle and Operator Performance Measurement, the Subcommittee on Young Drivers, and the Joint Subcommittee on Human Factors in Road Vehicle Automation.