Strong interactions with voice-guided vehicles do not result in safer driving

April 27, 2016

Washington, DC (April 27, 2016) - With the Tesla 3 on the horizon and its auto-pilot becoming standard, and semi-autonomous features already an option in some cars, it's easy to see a future where computer-guided vehicles become the industry norm. These cars, in essence, are social robots, interacting with drivers for a safer journey. But does a car's perceived personality and voice lead to safer driving? A recent study by researchers at Michigan State University, Eindhoven University of Technology, and Stanford University found that giving a car a more personal voice led to more car accidents.

Rabindra Ratan, Young June Sah, Will Renius (Michigan State University), Dave Miller, Rob Semmens (Stanford University) and Frank Verberne (Eindhoven University of Technology) will present their findings in June at the 66th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in Fukuoka, Japan. The researchers conducted an experiment by designing a car simulator with an Oculus Rift, steering wheel, and pedals. The participants were asked to select a car from a catalog that best presented their identity and to rate five pre-selected voices based on friendliness, human likeness, similarity and intelligence. The participants were told that they would get a randomly assigned voice, but were actually given the most similar or dissimilar voice from their rating.

The findings showed that participants who felt a strong social connection with the virtual driving instructor (i.e., "social presence") crashed more during the simulation, especially when they perceived the instructor's voice to be similar to their own or they felt that the car's appearance reflected their identity. This suggests that having too strong a social/personal connection with the virtual driving instructor is distracting to the driver and thus hinders safe driving.

A handful of studies have examined the effects of virtual voices on driving performance, and many studies have examined how the interactions between people and embodied technologies (e.g., computer agents, avatars) influence people. There is also a huge body of research on social presence in mediated and unmediated contexts. This study merges these lines of research in a new way.

"Autonomous and quasi-autonomous cars offer new modes of communication between humans and technology. Research on these modes of communication may yield new theoretical insights about human-computer interaction in general," said Ratan. "This research suggests that the development of autonomous and quasi-autonomous cars should consider the ways in which the voices integrated into these technologies influence the driver and thus safety on the road."
-end-
"KITT, Please Stop Distracting Me: Examining the Effects of Communication in Cars and Social Presence on Safe Driving," by Rabindra Ratan, Frank Verberne, Young June Sah, Dave Miller, Rob Semmens, and Will Renius; to be presented at the 66th Annual International Communication Association Conference, Fukuoka, Japan, 9-13 June 2016.

Contact: To schedule an interview with the author or a copy of the research, please contact John Paul Gutierrez, jpgutierrez@icahdq.org.

About ICA

The International Communication Association is an academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching, and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication. With more than 4,300 members in 80 countries, ICA includes 31 Divisions and Interest Groups and publishes the Communication Yearbook and five major, peer-reviewed journals: Journal of Communication, Communication Theory, Human Communication Research, Communication, Culture & Critique, and the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. For more information, visit http://www.icahdq.org.

International Communication Association

Related Technology Articles from Brightsurf:

December issue SLAS Technology features 'advances in technology to address COVID-19'
The December issue of SLAS Technology is a special collection featuring the cover article, ''Advances in Technology to Address COVID-19'' by editors Edward Kai-Hua Chow, Ph.D., (National University of Singapore), Pak Kin Wong, Ph.D., (The Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA) and Xianting Ding, Ph.D., (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China).

October issue SLAS Technology now available
The October issue of SLAS Technology features the cover article, 'Role of Digital Microfl-uidics in Enabling Access to Laboratory Automation and Making Biology Programmable' by Varun B.

Robot technology for everyone or only for the average person?
Robot technology is being used more and more in health rehabilitation and in working life.

Novel biomarker technology for cancer diagnostics
A new way of identifying cancer biomarkers has been developed by researchers at Lund University in Sweden.

Technology innovation for neurology
TU Graz researcher Francesco Greco has developed ultra-light tattoo electrodes that are hardly noticeable on the skin and make long-term measurements of brain activity cheaper and easier.

April's SLAS Technology is now available
April's Edition of SLAS Technology Features Cover Article, 'CURATE.AI: Optimizing Personalized Medicine with Artificial Intelligence'.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Post-lithium technology
Next-generation batteries will probably see the replacement of lithium ions by more abundant and environmentally benign alkali metal or multivalent ions.

Rethinking the role of technology in the classroom
Introducing tablets and laptops to the classroom has certain educational virtues, according to Annahita Ball, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, but her research suggests that tech has its limitations as well.

The science and technology of FAST
The Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), located in a radio quiet zone, with the targets (e.g., radio pulsars and neutron stars, galactic and extragalactic 21-cm HI emission).

Read More: Technology News and Technology Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.