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Publication Type:

Doctoral Thesis


Driving a vehicle in a dynamic traffic environment requires continuous adaptation of a complex manifold of physiological and cognitive activities. Impaired driving due to, for example, sleepiness, inattention, cognitive load or stress, affects one’s ability to adapt, predict and react to upcoming traffic events. In fact, human error has been found to be a contributing factor in more than 90% of traffic crashes. Unfortunately, there is no robust, objective ground truth for determining a driver’s state, and researchers often revert to using subjective self-rating scales when assessing level of sleepiness, cognitive load or stress. Thus, the development of better tools to understand, measure and monitor human behaviour across diverse scenarios and states is crucial. The main objective of this thesis is to develop objective measures of sleepiness, cognitive load and stress, which can later be used as research tools, either to benchmark unobtrusive sensor solutions or when investigating the influence of other factors on sleepiness, cognitive load, and stress. This thesis employs multivariate data analysis using machine learning to detect and classify different driver states based on physiological data. The reason for using rather intrusive sensor data, such as electroencephalography (EEG), electrooculography (EOG), electrocardiography (ECG), skin conductance, finger temperature, and respiration is that these methods can be used to analyse how the brain and body respond to internal and external changes, including those that do not generate overt behaviour. Moreover, the use of physiological data is expected to grow in importance when investigating human behaviour in partially automated vehicles, where active driving is replaced by passive supervision. Physiological data, especially the EEG is sensitive to motion artifacts and noise, and when recorded in naturalistic environments such as driving, artifacts are unavoidable. An automatic EEG artifact handling method ARTE (Automated aRTifacts handling in EEG) was therefore developed. When used as a preprocessing step in the classification of driver sleepiness, ARTE increased classification performance by 5%. ARTE is data-driven and does not rely on additional reference signals or manually defined thresholds, making it well suited for use in dynamic settings where unforeseen and rare artifacts are commonly encountered. In addition, several machine-learning algorithms have been developed for sleepiness, cognitive load, and stress classification. Regarding sleepiness classification, the best achieved accuracy was achieved using a Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifier. For multiclass, the obtained accuracy was 79% and for binary class it was 93%. A subject-dependent classification exhibited a 10% improvement in performance compared to the subject-independent classification, suggesting that much can be gained by using personalized classifiers. Moreover, by embedding contextual information, classification performance improves by approximately 5%. In regard to cognitive load classification, a 72% accuracy rate was achieved using a random forest classifier. Combining features from several data sources may improve performance, and indeed, we observed classification performance improvement by 10%-20% compared to using features from a single data source. To classify drivers’ stress, using the Case-based reasoning (CBR) and data fusion approach, the system achieved an 83.33% classification accuracy rate. This thesis work encourages the use of multivariate data for detecting and classifying driver states, including sleepiness, cognitive load, and stress. A univariate data source often presents challenges, since features from a single source or one just aspect of the feature are not entirely reliable; Therefore, multivariate information requires accurate driver state detection. Often, driver states are a subjective experience, in which other contextual data plays a vital role. Thus, the implication of incorporating contextual information in the classification scheme is presented in this thesis work. Although there are several commonalities, physiological signals are modulated differently in different driver states; Hence, multivariate data could help detect multiple driver states simultaneously – for example, cognitive load detection when a person is under the influence of different levels of stress.


author = {Shaibal Barua},
isbn = {978-91-7485-419-0},
month = {February},
year = {2019},
school = {M{\\"{a}}lardalen University},
url = {}