Pnina Gershon Talks the Present and Future of Vehicle Automation at SCALE Webinar

by Adam Felts

AgeLab Research Scientist Pnina Gershon gave a presenatation as part of a webinar hosted by the MIT Global Supply Chain and Logistics Excellence (SCALE) Network, titled “Technologies shaping the future of mobility.” For her talk, Dr. Gershon focused on automated vehicles, where the technology stands today, and what is needed for driving automation to fulfill its role in the future of mobility. Driving automation, she said, is a key enabler for many innovations that can facilitate new services and modes of transportation, as well as economic growth.

While the fully autonomous car is an engineering goal across the automotive and computing industries, the foreseeable future will be one of advanced driving assistance systems – technologies that facilitate the driving task while still requiring human monitoring and involvement.

The AgeLab’s AVT consortium studies how drivers interact with advanced vehicle technologies “in the wild” – on public roads. Driver assistance systems have transformed the driving task, alleviating drivers of certain responsibilities behind the wheel while creating new ones. How do these new systems affect driver behavior? How are drivers adapting to their new role as a manager of technology as well as vehicle operator? Past AVT research has suggested that some driver assistance technologies like Tesla Autopilot may result in driver distraction, and hence pose a potential safety risk without proper driver training and monitoring.

Dr. Gershon outlined the key players in the realm of vehicle automation – stakeholders who will facilitate the further development of driver assistance systems. Technology and automotive companies – and collaborations between the two – play a role in developing new systems and selling them to the public. Policymakers have a role in determining whether infrastructure and regulation will be developed in line with technological advancements in automobiles. And consumers play a role in their preferences –how much automation they are willing to tolerate in a car, or are willing to pay for – and in their knowledge and understanding of what technologies are available and adhering to their proper use.

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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