UIs for autonomous features ignore users

While automakers tout the value of autonomous driving systems and testing companies garner bad media. The general public is still afraid and unsure. A new report explains that autonomous features need more friendly user interfaces.

Over the last 15 years, semi-autonomous features offered by OEMs have arguably been a series of partially automated parking and driving systems that are mostly accurate and sometimes comfortable, but rarely easy to discover or use. A new report from the In-Vehicle UX (IVX) group at Strategy Analytics, “In Ramp Up to Fully Autonomous Systems, the User is Being Ignored”, assessed the on-going transition from semi-autonomous features in vehicles, to fully autonomous systems. Crucially, systems must be designed from the human outward, rather than from the system inward, to ensure successful uptake.

Current semi-autonomous driving and parking systems have not excelled, primarily due to poor human-machine-interfaces (HMI). In research undertaken by Strategy analytics, first-time users often had extreme difficulty mastering the controls related to these features and correctly interpreting relevant iconography and messages. Even the most basic task such as determining whether the system was “on,” was difficult. However, while consumers continue to show interest in autonomous transportation systems, many are pessimistic about them due to a lack of trust; and this will be a major obstacle to overcome.

Derek Viita, Senior Analyst and report author commented, “It is becoming clear that media coverage of early incidents with autonomous driving features is coloring early consumer perceptions of these systems. The rush by non-traditional transport companies to beta-test concepts before they are road-or-user-ready has led to a number of incidents being portrayed negatively in the media.”

Chris Schreiner, Director of Syndicated Research, agreed. “Added to positive media coverage, the user experience of semi-autonomous driving and parking systems could also improve greatly. For example, warnings that use multiple output modalities lead to a faster reaction time and a quicker hand-off back to the autonomous system than warnings that use just one modality. This would go a long way toward establishing consumer trust in future fully autonomous transport experiences.”

There is concern from consumer advocates that because regulators are being hired by autonomous driving and mobility companies that the government is not creating rules that are safe for Americans.