Researchers Present at 2021 Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Meeting

by Adam Felts

AgeLab researchers presented papers on consumer attitudes toward new technologies in the home and vehicle at the 65th International Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES).

AgeLab Research Scientist Chaiwoo Lee gave a presentation based on a paper titled “Consumer Knowledge and Acceptance of Driving Automation: Changes Over Time and Across Age Groups,” which presented findings from a five-year series of surveys on consumer attitudes toward autonomous vehicles. The results suggest that only a minority of consumers are willing to adopt self-driving cars, but variations exist based on people’s perceptions of the safety of the technology. For example, when a self-driving car was posited as being “as safe of a driver as you,” a substantial majority of respondents expressed a willingness to use it. The results also showed that respondents were far more comfortable with driving a car with some assistance technologies than they were with using a fully autonomous vehicle. These consumer perceptions may be at least partly influenced by inaccurate ideas about the present level of development and availability of self-driving cars for consumers: a majority of respondents either believed or were not sure whether self-driving cars were currently available for consumer purchase—they are not. The paper’s authors were Chaiwoo Lee, Pnina Gershon, Bryan Reimer, Bruce Mehler, and Joseph F. Coughlin.

AgeLab Postdoctoral Associate Shabnam FakhrHosseini presented a paper titled “User Needs of Smart Home Services,” which revealed findings from user interviews about home technologies To inform industries about current gaps and unmet needs in and around the home. The interviews were designed to elicit discussions with participants about how they dwelled within and used their homes, the home-related tasks that they found most challenging or frustrating, and what the ideal “smart home” would accomplish for them in their lives. The structure of the interviews allowed for conversations around a broad set of home needs, not simply limited to those for which a participant might expect a technological solution to be available. The interviews uncovered six themes around which participants’ attitudes on smart home technology appeared to converge, including a demand for tools to manage cohabitation with other residents, a desire for decision support for complex tasks, and concerns about safety and security when using technology in the home. The paper was authored by Shabnam FakhrHosseini, Sheng-Hung Lee, John Rudnik, Heesuk Son, Chaiwoo Lee, and Joseph Coughlin.

AutoLiv Researcher Engineer and former AgeLab Postdoctoral Associate Alberto Morando presented on findings from an AgeLab study that sought to determine the association between driver distraction and the engagement of autonomous vehicle systems, specifically Tesla’s AutoPilot system. Naturalistic data collected from 16 Tesla owners found that a significant portion of drivers disengaged from the driving task—either removing their hands from the wheel, no longer attending to the road, or both—as soon as the AutoPilot system was engaged. The results suggest that many drivers do not use the AutoPilot system as recommended by its engineers and designers.

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About the Author

Photo of Adam Felts
Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. He conducts research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. 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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