Human error has been implicated as a causal factor in a large proportion of road accidents. Automated driving systems purport to mitigate this risk, but self-driving systems that allow a driver to entirely disengage from the driving task also require the driver to monitor the environment and take control when necessary. Given that sleep loss impairs monitoring performance and there is a high prevalence of sleep deficiency in modern society, we hypothesized that supervising a self-driving vehicle would unmask latent sleepiness compared to manually controlled driving among individuals following their typical sleep schedules. We found that participants felt sleepier, had more involuntary transitions to sleep, had slower reaction times and more attentional failures, and showed substantial modifications in brain synchronization during and following an autonomous drive compared to a manually controlled drive. Our findings suggest that the introduction of partial self-driving capabilities in vehicles has the potential to paradoxically increase accident risk.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
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Psychology; Research Foundation
Erin E. Flynn-Evans, Lily R. Wong, Yukiyo Kuriyagawa, Nikhil Gowda, Patrick F. Cravalho, Sean Pradhan, Nathan H. Feick, Nicholas G. Bathurst, Zachary L. Glaros, Theerawit Wilaiprasitporn, Kanika Bansal, Javier O. Garcia, and Cassie J. Hilditch. "Supervision of a self-driving vehicle unmasks latent sleepiness relative to manually controlled driving" Scientific Reports (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92914-5