Horizon CDT Research Highlights

Research Highlights

Adaptive Driving Interfaces for the Ageing Population in Future Vehicles

  Iris Jestin (2023 cohort)

As people approach old age, they experience various physical difficulties and show signs of cognitive decline which may progress into a neurodegenerative condition like dementia. Driving and commuting by various means is a way for people to move about and feel independent in their lives. However, due to the struggles that come with ageing, it may become necessary to withhold driving privileges, which further causes a decline in a person’s health and a possible ripple effect on their caregivers. It is hence seen that it may be good to debate the driving safety of an individual before discussions of driving cessation, on seeing early signs of cognitive decline. With the progress in technology, we will see the coming of more vehicles that are able to safely operate on the roads without the need for human intervention. Advanced human-machine interfaces (HMIs) in these vehicles can compensate for age-related declines that affect driving. Hence, these technologies bring with them the potential to make driving and commuting accessible to a population that may have been overlooked in the research and design of it.

The PhD hopes to explore how to make use of HMIs in highly automated vehicles to make driving better accessible to the older population that still drives but struggles with it owing to signs of memory loss, cognitive decline, or early-stage dementia. The research will not look to develop such a technology but rather inform the making of it – exploring its potential and bringing to light the implications and concerns that need to be thought of. The PhD will hence look to solve the following research questions.

  1. For the older population that still drives, what are the struggles they experience with it that are caused by memory loss, cognitive decline, or early-stage dementia? 
  2. How can human-machine interfaces in automated vehicle technologies compensate for these struggles, to make driving/commute better accessible? 
  3. What are some of the concerns of responsible research that come with exploring this technology for this purpose? 
  4. What are the policies that need to be revisited or changes made to evaluate the use of this technology for this purpose? 

This author is supported by the Horizon Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Nottingham (UKRI Grant No. EP/S023305/1).