Deakin-Coventry Cotutelle - Road crossing, automated vehicles and behavioural adaptation

This is a doctoral Cotutelle project in ‘Road crossing, automated vehicles and behavioural adaptation’ between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (UK).

Deakin Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision

Deakin School or Institute


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus (Australia) and Coventry University (UK)

Research topic

This project and scholarship are offered as part of a collaborative doctoral cotutelle program between Deakin University (Australia) and Coventry University (UK). The successful candidate will be jointly supervised by a team of leading researchers from Deakin University and Coventry University and will graduate with a jointly supervised doctoral degree from each institution. The program is for a duration of 3.5 years. It is anticipated that the PhD candidate will spend at least 1 year during the program at Deakin University, with the remainder of the program based at Coventry University.

The PhD scholar will have access to the world class research facilities of both universities and work under joint supervision of an expert supervisory team (Prof Ben Horan and A/Prof Ashim Debnath from Deakin University; Dr William Payre and Prof Stewart Birrell from Coventry University). This collaborative arrangement offers a unique research strength that data and resources from two different institutes and study contexts could be accessed for comparative analysis in this PhD research project.

Fully automated driving (FAD) is expected to increase road safety. However, in a dynamic traffic environment, the deployment of FAD on public roads raises questions not only on the interactions with other vehicles, but also with all sorts of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, and now future mobility users such as micromobility. Furthermore, crossing the road is the most frequent event in pedestrian accidents and in 2018 pedestrians accounted for 26% of road deaths in Great Britain. Therefore, it is crucial to investigate pedestrian-FAD interactions when crossing a road, and their possible variations over time.

While the design of FAD exterior human-machine interface supports transparency as regards the vehicle status and intention, it does not shed light on how pedestrians adapt their behaviour when crossing a road after repeated exposures. This seems particularly relevant as previous research showed that automotive safety measures (e.g., ABS) led to road users' behavioural adaptation (e.g., driving with shorter time headways between vehicles), offsetting the initial intended safety effect. To comprehend and model behavioural adaptation under such circumstances, the proposed longitudinal research applies innovation in terms of the application of the risk homeostasis, an immersive approach of pedestrian simulation in virtual reality, and a range of behavioural and attitudinal measures.

Project aim

This project aims to understand the interactions and the cooperation between pedestrians and fully automated vehicles at road crossings (with or without zebras). More specifically, the research will examine pedestrians’ behavioural adaptation when exposed to fully automated vehicles and the effect of social norms on crossing behaviour.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Wednesday 31 August 2022.


This scholarship is supported by Coventry University and is available over 3 years and includes:

  • Stipend of £15,000 per annum
  • Tuition Fee Waiver
  • One return economy airfare to Deakin University to support residency period in Australia
  • Student visa and health insurance costs for period of residency at Deakin University in Australia

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate currently residing in the UK. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet the PhD entry requirements of both Deakin University and Coventry university, including English language proficiency requirements
  • enrolling full-time
  • be able to physically locate to both Coventry University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia)

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page and Coventry’s research entry criteria page for further information.

How to apply

Applicants should firstly contact A/Prof Ashim Debnath to discuss the project. After discussing your application with the Deakin Supervisor, you will be required to submit an Expression of interest directly with the relevant Faculty.


If successful, you will be invited by Deakin University to lodge a formal HDR application.
The successful applicant will also be required to lodge a separate PhD application to Coventry University via the 'Making an Application' page.  Please be aware that screening for this advert will commence immediately and the scholarship may be awarded prior to the closing date.

Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact A/Prof Ashim Debnath (Deakin University) or  Dr William Payre (Coventry University)

A/Prof Ashim Debnath (Deakin University)
Email A/Prof Ashim Debnath  
+61 3 522 73528

Dr William Payre (Coventry University)
Email Dr William Payre