05 Nov 2018
Harvard Business School Associate Professor Raffaella Sadun Wins National Science Foundation Grant
Raffaella Sadun
Photo: Russ Campbell

BOSTON—The National Science Foundation (NSF), a US federal government agency that promotes and supports research and education in math, science, engineering, and computer technology, announced today that Harvard Business School associate professor Raffaella Sadun and colleagues have received a research grant as part of the NSF’s Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier Project.

With the help of scholars from the University of New Hampshire, the University of Washington, Wellesley College, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sadun is principle investigator in a study focusing on “The Next Mobile Office: Safe and Productive Work in Automated Vehicles.”

According to the researchers, as cars become increasingly automated, they will take away a growing number of tasks from drivers, who will thus be free to engage in other activities, including efforts related to their work. The goal of the team’s research is to understand how commuters in automated vehicles can safely combine or switch between work and driving tasks. Such an increase in productive time could increase economic productivity, worker well-being, and firm profitability.

Based on their findings, Sadun and her team will create in-vehicle user interfaces that support work tasks as well as safe transitions between engaging in work and in driving. Three types of user interfaces will be integrated, including voice interfaces, augmented reality interfaces, and tangible interfaces. The team will also develop a probabilistic model to examine the ability of these in-vehicle interfaces to communicate to the driver the mode and limitations of the vehicle automation.

The team will conclude its efforts by providing researchers, practitioners, and policy makers with a broad set of guidelines, along with careful reasoning for their application in the design of human-machine interactions that both support the completion of work-related tasks and protect the welfare of workers in automated vehicles.

“My colleagues and I are grateful for this generous grant from the National Science Foundation,” said Sadun, “and look forward to completing research that will have an important impact on workers, work places, and the economy.”


Jim Aisner