Bryan Reimer, Ph.D., is a Research Scientist in the MIT AgeLab and the Associate Director of The New England University Transportation Center at MIT. His research seeks to develop new models and methodologies to measure and understand human behavior in dynamic environments utilizing physiological signals, visual behavior monitoring, and overall performance measures. Dr. Reimer leads a multidisciplinary team of researchers and students focused on understanding how drivers respond to the increasing complexity of the operating environment and on finding solutions to the next generation of human factors challenges associated with distracted driving, automation and other in-vehicle technologies. Dr. Reimer’s team also works with other researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to apply methods and knowledge in other domains affecting older adults.
He is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a BS in Industrial Engineering, an MS in Manufacturing Engineering and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. His doctoral work, entitled “Automated Methods of Detecting Driver Distractions,” showed that the size of a driver's scan path is reduced during periods of cognitive demand. His passion for human factors and cognitive engineering brought him to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he directs field and simulation studies focused on how drivers across the lifespan are affected by in-vehicle interfaces, safety systems, portable technologies, different types and levels of cognitive load. This research also assesses the impact medical impairments such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, ADHD and autism.
Dr. Reimer’s recent research focuses on how drivers can be trained to trust and understand new vehicle technologies involving different levels of automation, the cognitive demand associated with speech interfaces, and how drivers adapt to new and unfamiliar safety systems and interface technologies.
He is an author on over 70 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers in transportation and related human factors areas. In his more recent publications, Dr. Reimer shows that physiological measures such as heart rate and skin conductance are sensitive to changes in driver demand prior to the deterioration of driving performance. This forms the basis for developing a ‘Driver Aware Vehicle’ that considers the driver as an active participant in an integrated approach to vehicle safety. A cognitive benchmark task he co-developed has become an internationally known procedure for inducing and grading driver cognitive workload. In other work, he has shown that drivers who frequently engage in the use of cellular telephones while driving exhibit more risky driving behaviors independent of phone use.
Dr. Reimer collaborates with industries worldwide on the topic of driver safety. In addition to his work with students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he has been a featured speaker at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Texas A&M and The Technische Universität München. In 2011, Dr. Reimer provided the keynote address at the 3rd International Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicle Applications. He was a featured speaker at the 2012 New England Motor Press Association Autonomous Vehicle Conference and frequently presents to industry and academic audiences.
His research has been featured in the press including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, Science News, AARP Bulletin and Wired. His work was recently featured in a Discovery Channel documentary on automotive safety. A BBC Horizon documentary, “Surviving a Car Crash,” focused on his work as a key innovation in the future of automotive safety. Industrial Engineer Magazine featured Dr. Reimer in a 2012 story “Case Study Solutions in Practice Shifting to Cognitive Gear”. Science Careers featured Dr. Reimer in a Career Profile, “Focus on Aging: Engineering Safer Drivers”. A Boston Globe Magazine First Person article “MIT AgeLab scientist Bryan Reimer on the perils of driver distraction” provided his views on automotive safety research.
His worked has been supported extensively by BMW, Volvo Cars, Toyota, Ford Motor Company, Denso, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the United States Department of Transportation. Other funders include AARP, The Hartford, Healthways, Johnson & Johnson, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Monotype Imaging and the Santos Family Foundation.