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Virginia Tech and OnStar Partner on In-Vehicle Navigation Study

April 15, 2011

DETROIT – Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) and OnStar partnered to conduct a study that found voice-based telematics systems are a safer form of in-vehicle navigation.

The study evaluated 24 participants, aged 25 to 55, as they used the five different navigation options while driving. Inside the vehicle, audio and video footage of the drivers was captured, as well as the vehicle's key performance data. Researchers examined video of the driver's face, forward view, and movements for analysis of eye glances and other motions.

The OnStar-commissioned study evaluated a cell phone-based navigation application, a personal navigation device (PND), OnStar Turn-by-Turn directions, and OnStar Destination Download, as well as printed driving directions.

When asked about their preferences, 86.5 percent of participants liked "simple, quick instructions," and 80.8 percent indicated that they wanted the "least-complicated option." The study showed that drivers value visual information in addition to voice control. Additionally, all systems tested except OnStar Turn-by-Turn navigation required more than 20 seconds of total glance duration while entering a destination.

"VTTI's research showed that participants seemed to favor the presence of visual information to accompany the audio directions," said Miguel Perez of Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. "Additionally, the results of the study showed sizeable advantages in the use of voice control for destination entry, suggesting that systems that offer an array of navigation options are preferred by drivers." 

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