Browse Publications Technical Papers 2004-01-2587

Caution and Warning in the Cockpit Dashboard 2004-01-2587

Today’s motor vehicles are approaching the complexity of aircraft and spacecraft, but have a slightly different set of variables for the human operator; the driver. Gravitational forces rarely vary significantly for the vehicle driver; the ability to alter the trajectory usually exists; and refueling opportunities are seldom mission-limiting. Yet the driver is performing in an abnormal, dynamic environment with uncontrolled events and potential life-threatening outcomes just like the aviator or astronaut. Defining and managing ‘acceptable risk’ in the high performance environments of space and aviation continues to challenge today’s engineers and human factors researchers. In the automotive industry, engineers have traditionally approached this challenge by insuring the vehicle design is robust enough to accommodate the full range of potential operators. Automotive visionaries strive to analyze the task of driving and provide appropriate operator feedback, including insight on the vehicle’s health, without ever knowing the performance capacity of a specific end-user. Thus today’s complex automobiles have primarily incorporated rudimentary caution and warning systems founded on the paradigm of drivers calling upon expert technicians for help in diagnosis and repair; usually bringing the vehicle in for service. As the general public becomes more familiar with advisory systems signaling a range of response criticality [such as message lights on cell phones, clothes dryers buzzing while tumbling, computer windows letting you know a virus scan is occurring], what strategies would be most promising for providing the driver with more insight? What have we learned from other complex, dynamic operator environments that would appropriately transfer to this setting and help the driver evaluate urgency as well as options? This paper will discuss the need for and potential future of such human-system messaging strategies in the On-Board Diagnostic system of today’s motor vehicles.


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