RAPID ETHNOGRAPHY: INVESTIGATING PEDESTRIAN INTERACTIONS WITH VEHICLES

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

THIS PROJECT IN THE DESIGN THINKING PROCESS.

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Design Thinking
 

SUMMARY.

Sponsor: Nissan Research Center - Silicon Valley (NRC-SV)

Course: ANTH 232 - Ethnographic Applications II

Team: 3 Applied Anthropology (M.A.) Graduate Students

Timeline: 3-Weeks

Contribution: Research Design \ Data Collection and Analysis \ Preparation and Presentation of Deliverables

In the Spring 2018 semester, NRC-SV collaborated with the Anthropology Department at San José State University (SJSU) to explore pedestrian interactions and communication with vehicles. More specifically, to identify critical vehicle-pedestrian interaction and communication scenarios for the development and testing of autonomous vehicle-to-pedestrian (AV2P) communication systems.

PROBLEM.​​

  • Vehicle-pedestrian interactions often require a degree of communication and negotiation to proceed

  • Conventional vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communication systems (i.e. turning signals) can help mitigate most interactions

  • In scenarios where these systems are not successful in focusing the pedestrian's attention on the interaction, direct driver-pedestrian communication becomes necessary

  • Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) eliminate the role of the driver

 

OBJECTIVES.​

  1. Explore pedestrian interactions and communication with vehicles and technology

  2. Identify critical interaction and communication scenarios

 

RESEARCH QUESTIONS.​

  1. What are the behaviors and interactions of suburban cyclists?

  2. How and why do suburban cyclists interact and communicate with the environment and other road users, specifically vehicles and drivers?

 
 

METHODS.

 

Literature Review \ Observation \ Interview \ Survey

 

OBSERVATION QUOTA SAMPLE:

(N = 20-Hours)

A total of 20-hours of observational video recording was planned and obtained to ensure proper data saturation​ approximation.

INTERVIEW QUOTA SAMPLE: (N = 20)

A total of 20 representative users were solicited, screened, scheduled and ultimately participated in a 60-minute, one-on-one interview. Participants were selected to ensure proper data saturation approximation for the following user requirements:

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

PROCESS.

 
 

FINDINGS.

 

Literature Review

  • ​Pedestrian behavior is significantly influenced by social and environmental factors

  • Group size and dynamic, environmental factors have large effect sizes

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

Observation

  • Vehicle-to-Pedestrian communication systems (e.g. vehicle horn or turning signals) are effective with both single and groups of cyclists during both low-level and high-level interactions

  • Driver-to-Pedestrian communication (e.g. hand gestures or verbal  communication) is common with larger groups of pedestrians during high-level interactions and single cyclists (or, very small groups of cyclists) during low-level interactions

  • Driver-based communication is more nuanced (and less ambiguous) with larger groups of cyclists or during low-level interactions

The following stills obtained from observational footage show hundreds of cyclists crossing a busy intersection in groups, preventing vehicles from making a right turn and leading to a dangerous traffic jam. Despite several frustrated drivers indicating intent to turn by using their vehicle's turn signals and horn, they remained largely ignored and locked in traffic by cyclists for several minutes.

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

1

Many drivers become visibly agitated, yelling at cyclists and even playing 'chicken' with pedestrians

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

2

A cyclist notices the agitated drivers and begins to swerve, communicating with the rest of the group about coming to a complete stop

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

3

Hundreds of cyclists come to a complete stop, allowing several drivers to make a right turn

Survey (N = 112)

  • 82% of respondents believe cyclists have the highest priority over road use when riding in large groups

  • 70% believe vehicles have the highest priority over road use when riding alone

  • 23% reported using hand signals ALL or MOST of the time when riding alone

  • 7% reported using hand signals ALL or MOST of the time when riding in groups

Interviews ​

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

Organizers and Volunteers

"We have rules that participants are supposed to follow for their own safety. Unfortunately, we can't really enforce them"

 

- Organizer, M, 40

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

Cyclists and Participants

"If you're riding with a big group it's easier to get away with stuff. You just have to watch out for angry drivers"

- Bicyclist & Participant, M, 19

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

Drivers

"Sometimes you just have to drive around them. Avoid them"

- Driver, F, 30

INSIGHTS.

 

​By triangulating and converging on the analyzed observational, interview and survey data, the following insights were concluded:

  1. Traditional V2P communication systems can indirectly negotiate right-of-way with cyclists during low-level and high-level interactions

  2. Some interactions require direct driver-pedestrian communication and negotiation to proceed; AV developers need to account for the loss of the driver when developing & testing AV2P communication systems

 

DELIVERABLES.​

 

The following were delivered and presented to the Design Team at Nissan Research Center - Silicon Valley and the Department of Anthropology at San José State University:

 

Personas

The following personas represent vulnerable road users when interacting with vehicles.

 
Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

Daredevil Dave, M-15

  • Dave's bike is his main source of transportation

  • Loves riding with his friends and causing mayhem

  • Does not appreciate authority

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

Commuter Carole, F-30

  • Carole rides her bike to-and-from work every day

  • Takes all necessary precautions and can be overly cautious

  • Believes that following the rules will keep her safe, despite the flow of traffic

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

The Fun Family

  • Each member of the "Fun" family owns a bike

  • Always wear helmets and practice safe behaviors

  • Family Rule: Never ride alone!

Experience Flows

The following experience flow maps a critical AV-pedestrian interaction scenario where the AV intends on making a right turn at a marked, signalized intersection. In this scenario, the pedestrian has the right-of-way. 

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography
Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Ethnography

Short-Film Storyboard

A short-film storyboard was produced to help designers build empathy for pedestrians, accounting for them in the design of AV2P communication systems.

 

NEXT STEPS.

This research provided insights into the efficacy of V2P communication systems with bicyclists and groups of cyclists during critical vehicle-pedestrian interactions. Additionally, vehicle-pedestrian interaction scenarios were developed to test future AV2P communication systems.​ Further research is needed to develop AV2P communication systems, including testing with other various types of pedestrians, under conditions informed by real-world scenarios.

Victor Alejandro Cortes User Experience UX Research Portfolio Design Thinking

Work

Ethnography

IxD

DOE

Usability

Contact

 

Email

 

Mobile

 

LinkedIn

Instagram

Copyright © 2021 by Victor Alejandro Cortes.

All Rights Reserved.

 

San José, California

  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram