Using Models Based on Cognitive Theory to Predict Human Behavior in Traffic: A Case Study

The development of automated vehicles has the potential to revolutionize transportation, but they are currently unable to ensure a safe and time-efficient driving style. Reliable models predicting human behavior are essential for overcoming this issue. While data-driven models are commonly used to this end, they can be vulnerable in safety-critical edge cases. This has led to an interest in models incorporating cognitive theory, but as such models are commonly developed for explanatory purposes, this approach's effectiveness in behavior prediction has remained largely untested so far. In this article, we investigate the usefulness of the \emph{Commotions} model -- a novel cognitively plausible model incorporating the latest theories of human perception, decision-making, and motor control -- for predicting human behavior in gap acceptance scenarios, which entail many important traffic interactions such as lane changes and intersections. We show that this model can compete with or even outperform well-established data-driven prediction models across several naturalistic datasets. These results demonstrate the promise of incorporating cognitive theory in behavior prediction models for automated vehicles.

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