PhD Studentship: Determining the Impact that User Trust has on the Use of Autonomous Vehicle HMI

University of Warwick

Funding: 3 years for UK/EU nationals

Project Supervisors: Dr Stewart Birrell, and Dr Rebecca Cain

Start Date: Negotiable, but as soon as possible

Project aims

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (or CAV) are being tested on our roads today, and may be available for people to buy or use in as little as 12 months time. However, in general they are being driven by a ‘Technology Push’ rather than a ‘Consumer Pull’, meaning car (and software) companies are developing the technology and putting it out there, with little real demand from the end user, apart from a few early adopters.

This has led to a question being raised over how much people actually trust a car that either fully, or partially, drives itself. There is well-established research which focuses on user trust in autonomous systems from manufacturing and aviation sectors, but autonomous vehicles differ greatly, and new research is needed.

This PhD will focus on the practical application of trust in autonomous vehicles and will address questions such as:

  • What factors influence user trust in autonomous vehicle?
  • How can we design human machine interfaces (HMI) and in-vehicle information systems (IVIS) to enhance trust?
  • What is the effect of calibration of trust in use of autonomous vehicles?
  • How does trust change over time with continued use of CAV?
  • How can we accurately measure trust in both simulated and naturalistic settings?

You will be working with our Intelligent Vehicles and Experiential Engineering teams at a very exciting time. Our unique 3xD Simulator for Intelligent Vehicles was launched in 2016 and Phase 2 will be moving into the National Automotive Innovation Centre when it opens on campus next year.

Entry requirements:

We are actively seeking an enthusiastic individual to join our team with the following:

  • An undergraduate and/or postgraduate Master’s qualification in the field of Human Factors, Engineering, Psychology, Design or an associated Applied Science.
  • Enthusiasm for evaluation of new technology and understanding user interaction.

Please also note that evaluation of the autonomous vehicles will be occurring at different test sites in both Coventry and Milton Keynes, and a willingness to travel to these sites (costs covered by project) is an essential part of the project.


The PhD is fully funded for UK/EU students with both tuition fees paid and a tax-free, increased stipend of approxmately £14k per year.

To apply:

This is a COMPETITIVE application process and a formal application must be completed. The information supplied, will then be sent for review to assess your suitability and interviews will be conducted.

As part of the application, please supply your CV, grades and qualifications (achieved and/or expected), and a project plan and/or personal statement on why you think you should be considered for this position. Written references do not need to be supplied but may be sought after shortlisting with your permission. The awardee will however be required to supply satisfactory references at the acceptance stage.

Informal enquires can be addressed to Dr Stewart Birrell in the first instance.

To submit your application, please complete our online enquiry form

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Midlands of England