Browse Publications Technical Papers 2020-01-1203

Evaluating Drivers’ Preferences and Understanding of Powertrain and Advanced Driver Assistant Systems Symbols for Current and Future Vehicles 2020-01-1203

With the dramatic increase in vehicle technology, the availability of a wide range of powertrains, and the development of advanced driver assistant systems (ADAS), instrument cluster interfaces have become more complex, increasing the demand on drivers. Understanding the needs and preferences of a diverse group of drivers is essential for the development of digital instrument cluster interfaces that improve driver’s understanding of critical information about the vehicle. This study investigated drivers’ understanding and preferences related to powertrain and ADAS symbols presented on instrument clusters. Participants answered questions that evaluated nine symbol’s comprehension, familiarity, and helpfulness. Then, participants were presented with information from the owner’s manual for each symbol and responded if the information changed their understanding of the symbol. Lastly, participants rated their need for more information to understand the symbols and shared their preferences about how the automotive interface could help them better understand the symbols. Teen drivers (N=30), normal drivers (N=20), driving rehabilitation specialists (N=20), and automotive engineering students (N=48) participated in this study. When comparing the groups’ performance on the comprehension testing, driving rehabilitation specialists had the best performance. Teen drivers had the poorest performance. Symbols with an implied or arbitrary icon-function relationship demonstrated poorer comprehension for all participant groups. Symbols with a direct icon-function relationship received higher comprehension scores and helpfulness ratings independent of previous exposure. Symbols considered less helpful received higher ratings on the need for additional information, suggesting that drivers need additional information to understand the symbol when the symbol meaning is not clear. Automotive engineering students and normal drivers reported being considerably less satisfied with the information presented on the dashboard of their vehicles. The results of this study may help when developing new vehicle interfaces, ensuring that indicators and warnings are presented in a way that aid both inexperienced and experienced drivers.


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