Field Experiments in Real Traffic

Experiments in real traffic are necessary for a number of reasons.

For one thing, realistic scenarios that are not only surprising for the test participants but also plausible and realistic cannot be simulated on a test site or in a simulator. For another, we believe that systems must be tested for effectiveness and safe design in a real or realistic environment before they are introduced. While in the case of computer systems, beta versions are issued to the users for testing, this approach is not appropriate for safety systems in motorized road traffic.

To test functions or reactions of drivers in real traffic, it is usually necessary to deliberately engineer certain situations. There is for example the question of how drivers who have spent long periods driving with adaptive cruise control react to a vehicle suddenly moving into their lane. Although this situation does occur in real traffic, it is too rare to justify the time and effort of running an experiment that relies on it happening naturally.

Such situations are thus deliberately created in order to evaluate the response of drivers faced with system limitations or failure. Road safety is of utmost priority when engineering such situations, which means the situations must appear critical but be able to be resolved at any time by those involved. In particular, this requires extensive training of the participants instructed to act as other road users.


Real Traffic

Example video of a staged conflict situation.