Driver’s eye movements play key role in controlled curve driving
Washington- A cognitive scientist has revealed exactly how looking at the road guides the car through the curve, suggesting new crucial aspects of eye movements in curve driving.
Dissertation by Otto Lappi from the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Behavioural Sciences challenges the dominant understanding of visual strategies in curve driving that has been prevalent in the field for two decades.
Lappi and his research group used new and innovative methods to analyse the minute and subtle eye movements that drivers make when driving through a curve. These optokinetic eye movements take only fractions of a second, and the driver is not aware of them.
One of the sub-studies in the dissertation was the first academic research in the world to prove that these tiny eye movements, previously only found in simulation studies, were also apparent in natural driving situations. Another sub-study used analyses of these eye movements to examine how drivers predict their vehicle’s trajectory in a curve.
The results are based on revolutionary new eye movement analysis methods developed by the Traffic Research Unit at the University of Helsinki. Exact and reliable eye movement tracking during normal driving has been possible since the 1990s.
However, the computational modelling methods for behaviour in a natural environment have only in recent years developed to a level which enables the testing of the different theoretical models of the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying eye movements and steering in real driving environments.
This study provides new information on visual control in curve driving, and opens new ways to analyse the fundamental processes underlying the control of motion in natural environments both within and outside the sphere of traffic (e.g., sport).
The dissertation will be published in the series Studies in Cognitive Science .