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MIE’s Apoorva Hungund Wins H. Clay Gabler Scholar’s Award

Apoorva Hungund

Apoorva Hungund

Apoorva Hungund, a doctoral student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, has received the annual $20,000 H. Clay Gabler Scholar’s Award from the Association for Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM). Under the guidance of her advisor, MIE Assistant Professor Anuj K. Pradhan, Hungund will use the award to work on her research into the impact of vehicle automation on young drivers’ distraction behaviors, including strategies for mitigating the risks.

Hungund works with Pradhan in his Pradhan Research Group and is a research assistant in the Human Performance Laboratory, where Pradhan is the co-director.

Pradhan’s research group, which includes Hungund, focuses broadly on the human factors of vehicle automation, with emphasis on the impact on teen drivers and driver distraction.

“While the potential human-factors issues associated with vehicle automation have been studied considerably,” says Pradhan, “not much research has been done on the impact of automation on distraction, especially for teen drivers.”

Pradhan adds that “This is a critically understudied issue, since the convergence of teen drivers, distraction, and vehicle automation [has] the potential for a perfect storm, with critical and unanticipated effects which may negate promised safety benefits of vehicle automation.”

In that context, Pradhan explains that Hungund is an excellent researcher with a natural intuition for research, strong work ethic, and dedication. He notes that she also has “a unique creative sense of recognizing and addressing research questions in her domain of interest.”

Hungund’s research with the support of the AAAM award will be mirrored in her dissertation research, in which Hungund is studying the effects of automation on teen drivers and driver distraction, with an aim of understanding changes in driver risk and examining strategies to mitigate such risks.

Pradhan says that Hungund “has already conducted (and published) a literature review on distraction and lower levels of automation and is working on a broader systematic review of the literature for higher levels of automation.”

Pradhan goes on to explains that Hungund has also been instrumental in conducting a pilot study to understand the effects of training on drivers’ understanding of automation and is now leveraging the outcomes to study training as one strategy to mitigate distraction risks.

“Supported by the Scholar’s Program,” says Pradhan, “Ms. Hungund will have resources to augment her current dissertation research by adding a new layer to distraction mitigation (i.e., exploring the role of strategies other than training).”

Pradhan notes that Hungund proposes studying distraction mitigation through two new strategies: one that leverages design of vehicle human-machine interfaces to display vehicle automation state/capabilities; and a second that uses driver-monitoring systems that can be linked to automation state/capabilities. (October 2021)