Oct 14

A Visit to MIT AgeLab

Last week my colleague Zeljko Medenica and I visited AgeLab of the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. The visit was organized by the New England Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (NEC-HFES). This laboratory is investigating the role of technology in the human aging process. One of the big issues that older people face is driving safety. Bryan Reimer gave a very interesting lecture on driving research done at the lab.

He emphasized that in order to know more about people’s driving behavior, it is very important to know their workload. The workload measures they use are very similar to the ones we collect in our experiments: driving performance, physiological measures and subjective ratings.
After the lecture, we had a hands-on experience with the MIT AgeLab test vehicle and driving simulator, thanks to Bryan, Jarrod Orszulak and Bruce Mehler. The proprietary Volvo test car allows them to collect naturalistic driving data using many kinds of sensors. The driving simulator is based on an STI simulation engine. The car cab is a fixed-base VW Beetle placed in front of a projection screen.

In one of the studies done at AgeLab, researchers compared results from the driving simulator with naturalistic data and found that physiological measures correlate very well over the different platforms. It was very interesting to hear the experience of fellow workload estimation researchers and compare methodologies and measures used. Thanks Brian, Jarrod and Bruce for hosting us.

Oszkar Palinko