Ganesh Pai Mangalore, a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, has been awarded a $32,500 Link Foundation Fellowship in Modeling, Simulation, and Training. Pai Mangalore, who is a member of the research group headed by Assistant Professor Anuj K. Pradhan, will be studying how to conceptualize, develop, and evaluate a training program to help drivers realize the finer points of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), whose safety benefits are largely negated when utilized by uninformed users.
In announcing the fellowship, Pradhan called it “a prestigious fellowship in our field and a singular honor.”
Pradhan is the co-director of the Human Performance Laboratory, where Pai Mangalore does much of his research, and the head of the Pradhan Research Group, which is interested in the etiology of injuries and fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes from a human factors and behavioral standpoint.
Pai Mangalore has been conducting various driving assessment studies in the Human Performance Lab with an emphasis on virtual-reality headsets and automated vehicles.
Pai Mangalore’s research project during the span of his Link Fellowship will address the continuing issue of uniformed drivers using ADAS technologies inappropriately, thus nullifying their effectiveness.
As Pai Mangalore says, “Human-factors research indicates that benefits of ADAS are maximized if users’ mental models of these technologies are accurate and complete, but mental models themselves are vague concepts and difficult to characterize. Currently, there are no efficient conventional approaches to improve one’s mental models.”
The outcome of Pai Mangalore’s research will be a virtual-reality, headset-based, training program that improves drivers’ mental models of ADAS technology without requiring them to drive on the road.
Pai Mangalore predicts that his research will have “a significant translational impact on system design, driver education and licensing, and law enforcement policies.”
Pai Mangalore’s study will be conducted in three phases: in the first phase, he will utilize his prior work on virtual reality simulation and mental model characterization to conceptualize and develop the training content dealing with ADAS. The second phase will involve developing the virtual-reality, headset-based, training platform. In the third phase, he will evaluate the training efficacy of this platform through experiments with human participants on a fixed-base driving simulator in the Human Performance Lab.
In awarding Pai Mangalore the fellowship, the Link Foundation said that it awards these esteemed fellowships to qualified doctoral students to support their research in areas that embody the objective of its founder, Edwin A. Link, inventor of the first flight simulator. The fellowships are awarded each year to students enrolled in U.S. and Canadian institutions through a highly competitive process. (June 2021)