Researchers Investigate How Passengers Feel About Autonomous Vehicles

How would you react as a passenger in a self-driving car? Would your hands sweat? Heart race? Would your muscles tense? Or would you sit back and relax as the automakers advise? A group of researchers wants to find out.

University of Waterloo experts are recruiting volunteers to go for rides in autonomous vehicles so they can measure signs of anxiety and stress as the car drives in different ways. The car is programmed to drive with different levels of aggression while passengers, who are asked to watch a video, are monitored for signs of distraction and stress. So far, researchers say people get less anxious the more rides they take, and they hope their research will pave the way for cars to react to their passengers’ anxiety and adjust driving accordingly.

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