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Consortium Establishes Approach for Evaluating Driver Workload as Advanced Controls and Automated Driving Technologies Expand


January 10, 2017 --

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Jan. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A $5 million industry investment to date in a consortium that includes automakers, automotive suppliers, and global technology leaders is making the roads safer by addressing the leading cause of auto accidents driver error through a focus on supporting more effective in-vehicle attention management.

The Advanced Human Factors Evaluator for Automotive Demand (AHEAD) consortium has developed a safety-grounded Human Machine Interface (HMI) evaluation approach that is applicable for traditional vehicle control as well as increasingly automated driving. AHEAD was initially formed in 2013 by global automotive supplier DENSO, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) AgeLab and Touchstone Evaluations to address the challenge of distracted driving. The aim was to provide the auto industry with a driver attention assessment approach that better supports HMI evaluation in this period of continued and increased in-vehicle interface complexity.

"Developing an objective, safety-based methodology for driver workload evaluation is critical for a safe HMI vehicle experience," said Doug Patton, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at DENSO's North American headquarters in Southfield, Michigan. "This precompetitive consortium is an example of the type of partnerships that DENSO will support going forward."

Current evaluation methods for HMI technologies have been based upon criteria developed for primarily visual HMIs, those which preceded modern integrated technologies with multi-modal components, including voice interfaces, touchscreens and multi-function controllers. Earlier methods were not designed to consider the tradeoffs that exist as demand is moved between vision, touch, sound, haptics, and gesture modalities with the full range of operating contexts, and with consideration of the advent of automation technologies that relieve the driver of demand. AHEAD's efforts aim to support HMI evaluation needs at multiple points in the design process. AHEAD is achieving these goals through the development of a set of evaluation tools that enhance how designers identify the attentional demands HMIs place on drivers.

"Our work over the past several years has been to understand multi-modal HMI demand, and to develop an attention-based evaluation method that will allow designers and system engineers to balance safety with drivers' desire to stay connected," said Bryan Reimer, Research Scientist at MIT.

AHEAD's initial charter was in the context of HMI evaluation, but efforts are expanding to consider underload (including that induced by automation). As such, AHEAD's perspective moves beyond current global regulatory approaches and other industry guidelines to allow for the assessment of HMI demands in the context of an attention management framework with strong ties to situation awareness. The resulting models are extendable into real-time attention management systems, applicable both to traditional vehicle control and automated driving.

Current members of the consortium include DENSO, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Panasonic Automotive and Google.

Further details on the AHEAD consortium can be found at

About MIT AgeLab:
The MIT AgeLab was created in 1999 as a global research program to invent new ideas and creatively translate technologies into practical solutions that improve people's health and enable them to "do things" throughout the lifespan. Based within MIT's Center for Transportation and Logistics, the AgeLab has assembled a multi-disciplinary team of researchers and business partners, to design, develop and deploy innovations that touch nearly all aspects of how we will live, work and play tomorrow. Core research themes include transportation, health and wellness, and longevity planning.

About Touchstone Evaluations:
Touchstone Evaluations, Inc. was founded in 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. It is a new-generation human factors firm that provides research and consulting services in the automotive and consumer-product sectors. It is distinguished by the priority it places on scientific rigor, and by its focus on creating the "next practices" of user interface development, which will lead to effective and pleasing products. Touchstone's founders are award-winning scientists and engineers in the field of driver performance assessment and vehicle evaluation, who collectively have over 85 years of experience in the automotive industry.  Of the client-customized services which Touchstone delivers annually, typically 75 percent are focused on driver multitasking, attention, and distraction-assessment, 15 percent on active safety and emerging automotive technologies (including automation), and 10 percent on User Interface innovation.  For more information, visit

About DENSO in North America
DENSO is a leading global automotive supplier of advanced technology, systems and components in the areas of thermal, powertrain control, electronics and information and safety. With its North American headquarters located in Southfield, Michigan, DENSO employs more than 23,000 people at 30 consolidated companies and affiliates across the North American region. Of these, 28 are manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada and Mexico. In the United States alone, DENSO employs more than 15,000 people in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. DENSO's North American consolidated sales totaled US$9.9 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016. For more information, go to Connect with DENSO on Facebook at

DENSO Worldwide
DENSO Corp., headquartered in Kariya, Aichi prefecture, Japan has more than 200 subsidiaries and affiliates in 38 countries and regions (including Japan) and employs more than 150,000 people worldwide. Consolidated global sales for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016, totaled US$40.2 billion. Last fiscal year, DENSO spent 8.8 percent of its global consolidated sales on research and development. DENSO common stock is traded on the Tokyo and Nagoya stock exchanges. For more information, go to, or visit our media website at

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SOURCE DENSO Corporation

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