Real-time Vehicle Steering Sensitivity Adaptation based on Time-Frequency Analysis of Individual Drivers' Steering Behaviour

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Conventional steering systems in passenger vehicles have a mechanically fixed steering ratio. The steering sensitivity, defined as the amount of vehicle response to the driver's steering wheel input, remains fixed with changing road environments. Research has shown that driving comfort and safety can be improved when the vehicle's steering sensitivity is adapted to the road curvature profile. Current vehicle models can adapt the vehicle's steering sensitivity based on vehicle's speed and driver's steering wheel angle (i.e variable gear-ratio systems), or on individual selection of driving mode (i.e sport, comfort). It is hypothesised that adaptation of the steering sensitivity based on frequency measures of individual drivers' steering behaviour could improve driving comfort and safety. In a fixed-base driving simulator experiment involving 24 participants, real-time adaptation of steering wheel sensitivity based on individual drivers' steering behaviour was compared to three different fixed steering sensitivity settings on a road with changing road curvature. Here I show that intermittent switching frequency in drivers' steering movements can be used to adapt the vehicle's steering response to a varying road curvature. Significant differences in intermittent switching were found between different road curvature sections and between different steering sensitivity settings. Driver's positional control and comfort ratings did not significantly increase with the steering sensitivity adaptation strategy.