In the era of digitization, the rapid steps in transport automation bring new challenging conditions, transforming the framework of operator/vehicle/environment interactions, and the need for increased understanding of the human factors affecting the behaviour of operators. Several factors of driver state have been persistently demonstrated in the literature as critical for safe transport systems. Distraction, in-vehicle or external, remains a serious threat to road safety (Lee et al., 2009). Fatigue and drowsiness are not limited to professional drivers, they emerge as critical risks for all drivers (Zhang et al., 2016). Fitness-to-drive becomes a key question for all operators, with respect to health concerns (e.g. illness, frailty, cognitive state) especially in an ageing yet technologically challenged society (Eby et al., 2008). Extreme emotions, e.g. anxiety, stress, anger have received so far notably less attention (Mesken et al., 2007).

Moreover, differences in socio-cultural factors, are still among the main determinants of road risks. At the same time, technology developments make massive and detailed operator performance data easily available (e.g. new in-vehicle sensors that capture detailed driving style and contextual data, increase in the penetration and use of information technologies by drivers, Internet of Things). This creates new opportunities for the detection and design of customised interventions to mitigate the risks, increase awareness and upgrade performance, constantly and dynamically (Toledo et al., 2008; Horrey et al., 2012). The optimal exploitation of these opportunities will allow the EU to address the new challenges and to manage timely the new developments in order to achieve its ambitious goals on road safety.

The objective of this project is to setup a framework for the definition, development, testing and validation of a context-aware ‘Safety Tolerance Zone’ for driving, within a smart Driver, Vehicle & Environment Assessment and Monitoring System (i-DREAMS). Taking into account, on the one hand, driver background factors and realtime risk indicators, and on the other hand, driving task complexity indicators, a continuous real-time assessment will be made to monitor and determine if a driver is within acceptable boundaries of safe operation (i.e. Safety Tolerance Zone). Moreover, safety-oriented interventions will be developed. On the one hand, the to-be-developed i-DREAMS platform will offer a series of in-vehicle interventions, meant to prevent drivers from getting too close to the boundaries of unsafe operation and to bring them back into the safety tolerance zone, while driving. On the other hand, the i-DREAMS platform will allow implementation of two posttrip interventions, meant to motivate and enable human operators to develop the appropriate safety-oriented attitude.

Application areas include: new road safety interventions, improved driver
well-being and transfer of control between human and vehicle, as well as a more eco-efficient driving style since safer driving implies more eco-friendly behaviour (i.e., so-called ‘smart’ driving: see Young et al., 2011).
More specifically the following activities are defined in the project :

  • The measurement of risk-related physiological indicators (e.g. fatigue, distraction, stress, etc.), driverrelated background factors (age, driving experience, safety attitudes and perceptions, etc.), and driving environment and traffic complexity indicators (e.g. time of day, speed, traffic intensity, presence of vulnerable road users, adverse weather, etc.) to assess driver capacity and task demand in real-time;
  • The conceptual definition and operational implementation of a safety tolerance zone based on the above identified factors and indicators (i.e. context-aware);
  • The definition and operational implementation of safety and driver comfort related interventions to keep the driver in the safety tolerance zone; Interventions will be both immediate (i.e. real-time in-vehicle), and ‘delayed’ i.e. aimed at enhancing the knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and behavioural reaction of drivers with respect to safety-related technologies, situations and behaviours.
  • Initial i-DREAMS concept testing in a driving simulator environment, followed by the setup and operational rollout of a test bed (in total 600 vehicle operators in 5 countries) including private (cars), commercial vehicles (bus and truck), and trains to validate and evaluate the technological robustness, user experience and user acceptance of selected use cases of i-DREAMS;
  • The creation of market roadmaps with industrial market players for the created concepts and technologies to support smooth transition to the market;
  • Dissemination of project activities and outcomes to different EU countries and beyond.