ASSESSING THE EFFECTS OF COGNITIVE SECONDARY TASKS AND AUTOMATION TYPE ON CHANGES IN HEART RATE: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE POTENTIAL USE OF NANOTECHNOLOGY

2019-08-14T17:58:22Z (GMT) by Nade Liang
Vehicle automation is developing at a rapid rate worldwide. However, even lower levels of automation, such as SAE Level-1, are expected to reduce drivers’ workload by controlling either speed or lane position. At the same time, however, drivers’ engagement in secondary tasks may make up for this difference in workload displaced by automation. Previous research has investigated the effects of adaptive cruise control (ACC) on driving performance and workload, but little attention has been devoted to Lane Keeping Systems (LKS). In addition, the influence of secondary cognitive tasks on Level-1 driving performance is also not well understood.

The first goal of this thesis study was to examine the effects of secondary cognitive tasks and driving condition on driving performance. The second goal was to examine the effects of secondary cognitive tasks and driving condition on heart rate related measurements that reflect changes in workload. Both a novel nano-sensor and a commercial ECG sensor were used to measure heart rate. Thus, the third goal was to compare the capability of a nano-sensor in detecting changes in heart rate and heart rate variability with a commercially available ECG sensor. Twenty-five participants drove a simulated vehicle in manual, ACC and LKS driving conditions, while performing a secondary cognitive (N-back) task with varying levels of difficulty.

Results showed that more difficult cognitive secondary tasks were beneficial to driving performance in that a lower standard deviation of lane departure (SDLD) and a lower standard deviation of vehicle speed (SDVS) were both observed. Heart rate and NASA-TLX workload scores were significantly higher in the most difficult secondary task and in the manual driving conditions. However, heart rate variability measures (SDNN, RMSSD, pNN50, LF Power and HF Power) indicated lower variability under more difficult secondary tasks. This thesis suggests that nanotechnological devices may serve as a potential alternative to other heart rate measuring technology. Limitations in detecting minor heart rate changes between different driving conditions and in heart rate variability measuring were also acknowledged.