Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Bethel, Cindy L.

Committee Member

Carruth, Daniel W.

Committee Member

Swan, J. Edward, II

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Computer Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Computer Science and Engineering


The state of the art of autonomous vehicles requires operators to remain vigilant while performing secondary tasks. The goal of this research was to investigate how dynamically allocated secondary tasks affected driving performance, cognitive load, and situation awareness. Secondary tasks were presented at rates based on the autonomy level present and whether the autonomous system was engaged. A rapid secondary task rate was also presented for two short periods regardless of whether autonomy was engaged. There was a three-minute familiarization phase followed by a data collection phase where participants responded to secondary tasks while preventing the vehicle from colliding into random obstacles. After data collection, there was a brief survey to gather data on cognitive load, situation awareness, and relevant demographics. The data was compared to data gathered in a similar study by Cossitt [10] where secondary tasks were presented at a controlled frequency and a gradually increasing frequency.


Automotive Research Center