From Spoken Thoughts to Automated Driving Commentary: Predicting and Explaining Intelligent Vehicles' Actions

19 Apr 2022  ·  Daniel Omeiza, Sule Anjomshoae, Helena Webb, Marina Jirotka, Lars Kunze ·

In commentary driving, drivers verbalise their observations, assessments and intentions. By speaking out their thoughts, both learning and expert drivers are able to create a better understanding and awareness of their surroundings. In the intelligent vehicle context, automated driving commentary can provide intelligible explanations about driving actions, thereby assisting a driver or an end-user during driving operations in challenging and safety-critical scenarios. In this paper, we conducted a field study in which we deployed a research vehicle in an urban environment to obtain data. While collecting sensor data of the vehicle's surroundings, we obtained driving commentary from a driving instructor using the think-aloud protocol. We analysed the driving commentary and uncovered an explanation style; the driver first announces his observations, announces his plans, and then makes general remarks. He also makes counterfactual comments. We successfully demonstrated how factual and counterfactual natural language explanations that follow this style could be automatically generated using a transparent tree-based approach. Generated explanations for longitudinal actions (e.g., stop and move) were deemed more intelligible and plausible by human judges compared to lateral actions, such as lane changes. We discussed how our approach can be built on in the future to realise more robust and effective explainability for driver assistance as well as partial and conditional automation of driving functions.

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