Interactive merging behavior in a coupled driving simulator: Experimental framework and case study

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Olger SiebingaArkady ZgonnikovDavid Abbink

Abstract: Human highway-merging behavior is an important aspect when developing autonomous vehicles (AVs) that can safely and successfully interact with other road users. To design safe and acceptable human-AV interactions, the underlying mechanisms in human-human interactive behavior need to be understood. Exposing and understanding these mechanisms can be done using controlled driving simulator experiments. However, until now, such human-factors merging experiments have focused on aspects of the behavior of a single driver (e.g., gap acceptance) instead of on the dynamics of the interaction. Furthermore, existing experimental scenarios and data analysis tools (i.e., concepts like time-to-collision) are insufficient to analyze human-human interactive merging behavior. To help facilitate human-factors research on merging interactions, we propose an experimental framework consisting of a general simplified merging scenario and a set of three analysis tools: (1) a visual representation that captures the combined behavior of two participants and the safety margins they maintain in a single plot; (2) a signal (over time) that describes the level of conflict; and (3) a metric that describes the amount of time that was required to solve the merging conflict, called the conflict resolution time. In a case study with 18 participants, we used the proposed framework and analysis tools in a top-down view driving simulator where two human participants can interact. The results show that the proposed scenario can expose diverse behaviors for different conditions. We demonstrate that our novel visual representation, conflict resolution time, and conflict signal are valuable tools when comparing human behavior between conditions. Therefore, with its simplified merging scenario and analysis tools, the proposed experimental framework can be a valuable asset when developing driver models that describe interactive merging behavior and when designing AVs that interact with humans.

Keywords: driving interaction, highway merging, driving simulator experiment

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002485

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