Human interaction with intelligent vehicles – how do we react and when is it dangerous?

During the past five years, PhD student Maytheewat Aramrattana has developed a simulation programme to test and evaluate functions of intelligent vehicles, including how humans act in traffic situations with them. The research has been done in collaboration between Halmstad University and the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute (VTI) with the goal to improve infrastructure and technology. Meet the young researcher who believes that intelligent vehicles will fundamentally change the way people and goods are transported – and he is motivated to contribute to this change with his knowledge.

"It is important that humans are involved in testing and evaluating new transportation systems. Through the simulation I have built, we can study how human drivers use and interact with cooperative intelligent vehicles. This gives us a better understanding of how society perceives and reacts to these future vehicles”, says PhD student Maytheewat Aramrattana, who will defend his doctoral thesis on the subject on December 12.

Maytheewat Aramrattana, PhD student at the School of Information Technology at Halmstad University.

Cooperative automated vehicles talk to each other

Cooperative automated vehicles is a term used for intelligent cars, buses and trucks that communicate with each other and the traffic system infrastructure to navigate and drive more or less automated, by themselves. The future of cooperative and more automated vehicles is by many experts proposed to be near. Maytheewat Aramrattana believes that it will begin with restricted or confined areas in the road networks and eventually cover more and more scenarios.

”Cooperative automated and partly autonomous vehicles are already today used in confined areas such as mines, harbors and warehouses. For us humans, many have predicted that we will have more car users but fewer car owners, because of the car sharing businesses. If we look very far into the future, perhaps your car can go and do other tasks while you are at work. For example, pick up groceries, drive to a workshop for regular maintenance checks or let other people use it to earn money. The way we move goods will perhaps not change so much, it will just become more ‘automated’”, says Maytheewat Aramrattana.

Safety must be ensured

Platooning, which refers to a number of connected, cooperative and partly automated vehicles that follow each other with short inter-vehicular distance in order to save fuel and minimise road space, is already a reality on our roads. The wireless communication between vehicles in a platoon is crucial – if the communication fails for just a couple of seconds, the result can be devastating. Or if a car cuts in between two trucks in a platoon. Maytheewat Aramrattana explains:

”There are many scenarios to be considered when evaluating safety of platooning applications. By using the simulation programme, I have performed safety analysis on situations when a normal vehicle, with no automation or connectivity, changes lane and ends up in between these platooning vehicles, a so called ‘cut-in situation’.”

Maytheewat Aramrattana chose to study these cut-in situations because they are commonly occurring and an important hazard to platoons. The results of the simulations show that this kind of situation could be dangerous, with many factors involved from the perspectives of safety and user acceptance.

”Platooning applications should have strategies to properly deal with such situations. However, there are no standards or guidelines regarding this at the moment”, says Maytheewat Aramrattana.

On the winning teams

In 2016, a team of Master’s students from Halmstad University won the prestigious competition Grand Cooperative Driving Challenge 2016 (GCDC). Maytheewat Aramrattana was, together with colleague Wojciech Mostowski, the team leader for Team Halmstad. Two years later, in May 2018, Maytheewat Aramrattana helped six engineering students during an international drone competition. The students designed an advanced autonomous drone that could automatically pick up another drone. The Halmstad team came in second place. Recently, Maytheewat Aramrattana was part of a group from Halmstad University that won a hackathon arranged by Volvo. The team created a smartphone app for automatic inspection of the undercarriage system of excavators.

”During the hackathon, my colleagues Sepideh and Hassan and I were mostly working on a mobile application on Android, which we have never done before. It was fun!”, says Maytheewat Aramrattana.

Maytheewat Aramrattana will continue working at the Swedish National Road and Transport Institute (VTI) as a researcher and is determined to contribute to safer autonomous vehicles. His supervisors, both at VTI and at Halmstad University, are very pleased with his performance:

”The project has been executed according to plan with consistent high-quality publications that has lead up to a finalised PhD thesis. Overall, a great job carried out on time”, says Jonas Jansson at VTI.

”The project is now finished and several interesting results related to the simulation based method for testing of functions and scenarios in so called cooperative intelligent transport systems have been published and also summarised in his PhD thesis. I am happy with the work and to collaborate with Maytheewat”, says Tony Larsson, Professor in Embedded Systems at Halmstad University.

Text: Louise Wandel
Photo: Kristina Rörström
Illustration: iStock

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Embedded and Intelligent Systems Industrial Graduate School (EISIGS)

About the thesis and doctoral defense

Maytheewat Aramrattana will defend his doctoral thesis on December 12 at 10:15 in Wigforss, Visionen (J Building) at Halmstad University.

Thesis title: A Simulation-Based Safety Analysis of CACC-Enabled Highway Platooning External link, opens in new window.

Maytheewat Aramrattana’s research is about testing and evaluating Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) using simulation that also includes human interaction. C-ITS involves autonomous vehicles that are connected via a wireless communication network. Maytheewat Aramrattana is a research student within Halmstad University Embedded and Intelligent Systems Industrial Graduate School (EISIGS) .

Supervisors are Professor Tony Larsson, Halmstad University, Dr. Jonas Jansson, VTI, and Dr. Cristofer Englund, RISE Viktoria and Halmstad University. Opponent is Dr. Vicente Milanés, Groupe Renault.

Get to know Maytheewat Aramrattana

Why did you apply for a position as a PhD student?

”That is a hard question. If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would never have said that I wanted to do a PhD. But I guess because I like to try and learn new things, and I would like to try doing research. Also, the topic of connected and automated vehicles was one of many very interesting future areas at the time I started.”

How come you chose Halmstad University?

”I started here as a Master’s student. I have a huge interest in embedded systems, and Halmstad University has a Master’s programme specifically for this. Since I was already familiar with the city and University, I did not hesitate to continue here towards my PhD.”

What is your background and your interests?

”I am from Bangkok, Thailand. I studied electrical engineering there and worked for one year as a Hardware Engineer, designing circuit boards and programming embedded systems.

I am interested in many things, like gaming, football, electronics, and now, of course, autonomous and connected vehicles.”

Why did you become an engineer?

”I like challenges and solving problems, I guess those are part of the skills of an engineer, so I became one.”

What is it like to be a PhD student?

”The best thing about it is flexibility, the worst is probably the stress. But I feel so lucky that I had the chance to be involved in several projects that are not necessarily related to my PhD project. I think I would not have had these opportunities, if I was not working as a PhD student. Second best is the opportunity to go to conferences and get to know people in your research area, get feedback on your work, listen to their presentations, and discover new places. I have learnt so many new things during my years as a PhD student.”

What is the group of PhD students at the School of Information Technology (ITE) like?

”I feel that we have quite a strong and international group of PhD students at ITE. We have gatherings and frequently spend time (not working) together 😉”

What will you do in 10 years time?

”I don’t know. Hopefully I will still do research in the same area, but you never know.”

If you would not have been a researcher, what would you have been?

”An engineer or a gamer. ”