June 26 – July 1 , 2016, Dagstuhl Seminar 16262

Automotive User Interfaces in the Age of Automation


Susanne Boll (Universität Oldenburg, DE)
Andrew Kun (University of New Hampshire – Durham, US)
Andreas Riener (TH Ingolstadt, DE)

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Dagstuhl Report, Volume 6, Issue 6 Dagstuhl Report
Aims & Scope
List of Participants
Dagstuhl's Impact: Documents available


The next big change in the automotive domain will be the move towards semi-automated and automated driving. The pathway to autonomous driving supported by rapid advance of a wide range of novel vehicle-related technology presents industry, academia, and regulatory agencies with new opportunities and challenges in re-imagining human interactions in the vehicle. While expectations are high towards automated driving the revolution will proceed in incremental steps; with the progress of technology new tasks and driving phases will be supported by automation. All of this will unfold in traffic scenarios in which different levels of automation will coexist for many years in which user interfaces play a key role.

We see three core challenges for automotive user interfaces in the age of automation, which we have addressed during the seminar.

  • Transforming vehicles into places of productivity and play. People in automated vehicles will be able to turn their attention to non-driving tasks some of the time, or even much of the time. This will allow user interface designers to explore a range of possible interactions, which are might be too distracting in manually driven vehicles. For highly automated vehicles our constraints will have to do less with the driver’s attention to the road, and more with the characteristics of the vehicle, such as the area available for interaction, the motion of the vehicle, as well as its computational power and the sensors that are available in the cockpit. User interactions will include other people in the vehicle, but might also include people in other vehicles. Novel user interfaces may turn the car into an infotainment and entertainment platform in which the automation allows for new secondary tasks in the car with driver and passengers that were not possible before.
  • Re-engagement of drivers into the driving task. As automated driving makes advances, drivers will often be able to disengage from driving, and safely turn their attention to a secondary task. But until our vehicles are fully automated, drivers will eventually have to re-engage in driving. As the non-driving tasks may vary in time but also in the engagement of the user, it will be a challenge to safely and timely return to the primary task. For handling a critical situation the driver must perceive, and act upon, a sequence of information and entities. This can be a complex maneuver in a traffic scenario but also a time critical course of actions in the treatment of an emergency case. Much work needs to be done on user interface design in order to make re-engagement in different kinds of situations and different kinds of complexity safe.
  • Collaboration in mixed traffic scenarios. Traffic automation will come to the streets peu-a-peu. Thereby and for many years, mixed scenarios in which vehicles with no-, partial-, and full automation will coexist and cooperate in daily traffic. This road sharing involves communicating autonomous operations to the driver of the autonomous car and also a communication strategy to keep non-autonomous vehicles and their drivers in the loop. Road sharing means avoiding collisions, but automated vehicles will also cooperate, for example by traveling in platoons in order to save energy and improve the utilization of the road infrastructure. Research is needed to create user interfaces that allow for safe operation of the vehicle in all of these mixed traffic scenarios.

Along with these topics, we also discussed the role of trust, e.g., how user interfaces will support the communication of trust in typical situations with mixed levels of automation. We further discussed about future technologies in and around the car (e.g., novel sensors, interaction concepts, and feedback systems) and about the recent strategy change of automakers to fund apps and invest a lot in app development to make car dashboards/instrument clusters more sustainable.

This Dagstuhl Seminar brought together researchers from human computer interaction, cognitive psychology, human factors, psychology, and also from automotive industry and OEMs to discuss the new interface paradigms for (semi-)automated driving.

Summary text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 Unported license
  Susanne Boll, Andrew Kun, and Andreas Riener

Dagstuhl Seminar Series


  • Mobile Computing
  • Society / Human-computer Interaction


  • Novel automotive UIs
  • Driver-vehicle interaction services
  • Social-inspired traffic mechanisms
  • Customization of vehicles for the individual driver
  • User experience in future driving


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


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