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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-RD-95-197
Date: December 1996

Development of Human Factors Guidelines for Advanced Traveler Information Systems and Commercial Vehicle Operations: Comparable Systems Analysis











The selection of the comparable systems was accomplished in two phases. The objective of the first phase was to compile a comprehensive list of existing ATIS/CVO-related systems. The list was compiled from several sources: Proceedings of IVHS America Meeting 1993; commercial presentations (booths) at the IVHS America Meetings of 1992 and 1993; ITS Clearinghouse on-line network; literature provided by Task A, Literature Review (Dingus, Hulse, Alves-Foss, Confer, Jahns, Rice, Roberts, Hanowski, and Sorenson, 1993); interviews conducted by Battelle in Task B, Development of Objectives and Performance Requirements (McCallum, Lee, Sanquist, and Wheeler, 1993); and telephone calls following up on prior leads.

In the second phase of the selection process, a total of seven systems were selected for the Comparable Systems Analysis. Two were mandated by the Statement of Work. The remaining five were selected based on the following criteria:

  • Relevance to ATIS and CVO concepts and features.

  • Similarity to specific ATIS subsystems (IRANS, IMSIS, ISIS, IVSAWS).

  • Advanced technology with information display and user input capability.

  • Dynamics of information flow.
    • The ideal candidate system would be two-way, real-time communication with either satellite systems, roadside beacons, or a Traffic Management Center (TMC).

  • Complexity of the system.
    • The candidate system demonstrated a high level of system complexity, information content, and rate of user interaction.

  • Implementation level.
    • The candidate system was at least at a prototype level of implementation, enabling detailed analysis and observation.

  • User population training level.
    • The candidate system was designed for a population similar to the driving population for which ATIS systems are intended. More specialized user requirements were considered for CVO and non- highway systems.

  • User time-sharing requirements.
    • The candidate system required users to reallocate their attentional resources from a primary task. Drivers must place priority on the driving task and share their attentional resources to interact with the in-vehicle device. Candidate systems demonstrated this "secondary task" requirement.

  • Accessibility of the system for analysis.
    • For proprietary reasons, certain systems were not accessible. Foreign systems not available in the United States were eliminated due to travel cost constraints. Some of the systems selected still had restricted access and required a different level of analysis.



Two ATIS systems, TravTek and UMTRI, were required by the SOW. In addition, a similar system, Navmate, was selected.

The TravTek System

Travel Technology (TravTek) is an in-vehicle route planning and navigation system manufactured by General Motors.

The comparable systems analysis of TravTek was unique in that the TravTek operational field test was recently completed. Unlike the other ATIS systems, TravTek has been subjected to more than 1.6 million km of user testing. An in-depth field test on this system commenced in Orlando, Florida, in 1992, in which TravTek was installed in 100 cars (75 were rental cars) and participants were surveyed after they returned the rental cars. Twenty-five cars were used for research and development testing. The TravTek field test is the largest evaluation of an ATIS system to date in the United States. It was anticipated that the initial TravTek research, in addition to available knowledge about the TravTek design process, would provide the greatest number and most relevant ATIS lessons. Therefore, this section contains data not only on lessons learned in the design and development of TravTek, but on valuable lessons learned from the initial results of the TravTek field tests (based on the participation of one of the authors in that evaluation).

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)

Under the sponsorship of the FHWA, UMTRI has performed a series of laboratory and field studies over the past 4 years on the development of in-vehicle interfaces for driver information systems. The emphasis in Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS) has been in the design of the controls and displays, the presentation logic, and the sequencing of information. Dr. Paul Green of the UMTRI Human Factors Division has directed much of this research, and approximately 16 reports are being submitted to FHWA. The objectives of the UMTRI program of research are to "develop a safe and easy-to-use in-car traffic information system and guidelines, and methods for their evaluation" (Paelke, Green, and Wen, 1993).

The Navmate System

Navmate is an in-vehicle route planning and guidance system designed and manufactured by Zexel Corporation. Plans for the first prototype began in 1989 and it was developed in 2 years. It was included as an additional ATIS system in this study because it was very accessible. Five Avis rental cars in San Jose, California, are currently instrumented with the Navmate system; this allows analysts to perform an informal usability study on the system. Navmate will be installed in another 95 rental vehicles in the next year to expand this data collection effort. This data will be used to evaluate the interface, features, and functions of the current prototype, and to improve the system in the next prototype.



Two systems were selected to obtain lessons learned in the application of in-vehicle display systems to CVO. One system was selected directly from the commercial vehicle domain. The other was introduced because it applied ATIS technology to emergency service vehicles.

The OmniTRACS System

OmniTRACS is an on-board, two-way communication system developed by QUALCOMM. It was first installed in a commercial trucking fleet of 5,000 vehicles in 1988 and now exists in over 50,000 trucks. It is a two-way, satellite-based data link system between drivers and dispatchers. While it was not intended to be a route planning or navigation system, it does have that capability. This system enabled the analyst to learn lessons about methods for displaying, entering, and retrieving information with an in-cab system, as well as methods for storing and retrieving information for a large trucking fleet, and methods for communicating between a commercial vehicle and a control center (i.e., dispatcher).

The analysis of this CVO system provided insightful information and lessons learned in the design and development of driver-dispatcher communication systems in the trucking industry. Since this system has been available in the commercial market since 1988, additional lessons were discovered concerning the deployment of this system that will have to be addressed by future ATIS systems in order to penetrate the commercial market.

The TravelPilot System

The in-vehicle component of the TravelPilot system evolved from an earlier ETAK product named Navigator. Navigator was intended to provide information regarding the current position of a vehicle and a destination referenced to the road system. TravelPilot then evolved as a product for commercial applications that featured route selection and two-way communication to a dispatch centerðCfunctions that were not available in the consumer-targeted Navigator system. TravelPilot by ETAK is currently installed and used in trucks from the Seattle Fire Department. This on-board display system provides a communications link between emergency response vehicles (e.g., fire engines) and the Seattle Fire Department Dispatch Center.

The information on this system originated from the following levels of analysis: reviewing a chapter from the Seattle Fire Department Computer-Aided Dispatch System manual on the Automatic Vehicle Location Operations; on-site visit of the Seattle Fire Department Dispatch Center made by Battelle Seattle Research Center personnel in which the operation of the system was observed; and interviews with managers, dispatchers, and drivers.



Two of the selected systems were required to be non-highway transportation systems. The selection of these systems also was based on the criteria described above to ensure that the systems would provide information relevant to ATIS/CVO applications. A number of major areas were investigated (e.g., maritime, aerospace, aviation, and nuclear power) to determine the feasibility of contributing to Task D objectives. The criteria of accessibility eliminated many potential systems that were either proprietary or still in the planning and research stages. In the end, the area of advanced rotorcraft navigation systems seemed to best fulfill the selection criteria.

Crew Station Research and Development Facility (CSRDF)

This advanced rotorcraft simulator at the NASA Ames Research Center includes a number of technological features, such as head-tracked helmet-mounted display, digital map, touchscreen technology, voice interaction, and dynamic information flow. The pilot-vehicle interface was designed by a team of human factors specialists working for the Army Aeroflightdynamics Directorate and the simulator facility was manufactured by CAE Electronics. This system was accessible to analysts and fulfilled several of the selection criteria in terms of aided navigation using digital maps.

The Sikorsky Cognitive Decision-Aiding System

This system features a digital map that incorporates the output of a cognitive decision-aiding system to assist the rotorcraft pilot in selecting alternate mission plans and routes. This system incorporates advanced display technology and navigation decision aiding-features of direct relevance to ATIS/CVO.



The lessons learned and guidelines presented as a result of this analysis are based on a small sample of existing systems. Several other candidate systems may provide excellent material for lessons learned. To verify and extend the recommendations and lessons learned from this analysis, other systems could be investigated in greater detail. The ATIS-related systems that could be explored further include the following:

  • Other existing domestic ATIS applications: Ali-Scout and Telepath.

  • Foreign systems: Autoguide, CARIN, PROMETHEUS, Trafficscope.

  • Personal navigation systems: Traxar, Driverguide.

  • Corridors--Operational Traffic Management Tests (e.g., SmartRoute, Advantage I-75, HELP Crescent).

The "corridors" are undergoing operational testing and are composed of "intelligent highways" and Traffic Management Centers (TMC's). These systems involve monitoring traffic conditions (e.g., volume, vehicle flow, speed, congestion) from various highway and in-vehicle sensors, and highway videotape. Lessons regarding two-way, real-time information flow and corresponding effects on in-vehicle interface are worthy of detailed analysis to produce additional human-interface guidelines.

Other non-highway systems also could provide additional information. Some worthy candidates are:

  • Glass-cockpit systems.
    • Many interface issues have been studied and implemented in aviation systems such as the Boeing 777, 747-400, and the A-320.

  • Aerospace systems.
    • Mission Planning Systems and Shuttle Multipurpose Electronic Display System (MEDS) were investigated, but were not accessible.
    • Advanced air traffic control systems have some user-interface issues relevant to ATIS, but they are more applicable to Traffic Management Systems (TMS) [Kelly, Gerth, and West, 1993].

  • Nuclear power systems.
    • The nuclear power industry has engaged in research and development on advanced display systems, primarily involving "system health monitoring." This concept is relevant to in-vehicle safety and hazard warnings. However, the operators are carefully selected and trained and the time-sharing requirements are different than those for drivers/pilots who must maintain an adequate level of performance on a primary task (i.e., driving) while interacting with in-vehicle ATIS/display system (a secondary task). Nevertheless, at least one nuclear system was identified as a potential candidate. Reactor Emergency Action Level Monitor (REALM) is an expert diagnostic and advisory system developed for the nuclear power industry to monitor high-risk conditions.




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