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Otto Lappi, Esko Lehtonen, Jami Pekkanen, Teemu Itkonen; Beyond the tangent point: Gaze targets in naturalistic driving. Journal of Vision 2013;13(13):11. doi: 10.1167/13.13.11.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Moving in natural environments is guided by looking where you are going. When entering a bend, car drivers direct their gaze toward the inside of the curve, in the region of the curve apex. This behavior has been analyzed in terms of both “tangent point models,” which posit that drivers are looking at the tangent point (TP), and “future path models,” which posit that drivers are visually targeting a point on the desired trajectory or future path (FP). This issue remains unresolved, partly due to the challenge of representing the changing visual projection of the trajectory into the driver's field of view. This paper reports a study of naturalistic driving, in which the FP in the field of view is explicitly modeled, and the TP and reference points on the FP are simultaneously analyzed as potential gaze targets. We argue that traditional area-of-interest methods commonly interpreted as supporting the TP hypothesis are problematic when the interest is contrasting multiple gaze targets. This prompts a critical reassessment of the empirical case for the ubiquity of looking at the TP and the generality of the TP hypothesis as an account of where people look when they steer. As a basis for representing driver gaze behavior, the FP is an equally valid point of departure. There are no overwhelming theoretical or empirical reasons for favoring the TP models over the FP models.
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