The Safe Mobility Lab uses eye-tracking technology to evaluate transportation safety for cyclists and pedestrians
The Safe Mobility Lab's eye-tracking glasses collect 100 data points per second
Using eye-tracking glasses, researchers can track the experience of cyclists and pedestrians as they navigate city streets
Developing New Metrics for Transportation Safety with Cyclist and Pedestrian Eye-Tracking Data
Under the leadership of Associate Professor Megan Ryerson, the Center for Safe Mobility at Penn is pioneering a fundamental shift in how roadway safety is understood and evaluated by developing new ways to measure safety with proactive, user-based metrics.
Today, transportation improvements are prioritized and designed based on a single, stark variable: counting crashes or deaths. There are fundamental issues to this approach: Crash data is significantly underreported and relies on police and medical reports, and crash counts do not encompass near misses—the numerous unsafe interactions that do not result in a crash. The field of transportation recognizes that measuring safety with crashes is a biased method, but presently do not have a mechanism to test pedestrian and cyclist safety a priori to the construction of urban transportation infrastructure. The Center for Safe Mobility fills this gap by using eye-tracking technology to study how a person interacts with their environment, using sensors to monitor eye movements. These sensors collect data on exactly where a person is looking at any given time—gathering 100 data points every second. By combining measurements of pupil position, gaze orientation, and a gyroscope and accelerometer to measure head movement, angle, and velocity, these data points form new metrics to evaluate infrastructure design and safety. This includes analyses aimed to identify the most stressful locations or experiences as well as the most effective design interventions, and to better understand the cognitive and visual experiences of cyclists navigating a street.