Monday, June 25, 2007

Mercedes Uses Virtual Reality to Study Driver's Worldview

Auto design with ergonomics video ...

"A good view of other road users is crucial for safe driving. A-pillars or B-pillars that are too thick can restrict a driver’s field of vision and quickly lead to danger.

Now, virtual reality specialists at DaimlerChrysler Research have developed a visualization process that enables developers to realistically assess how vehicle design affects a driver’s field of vision - before a new model even exists.

... For example, you might feel as if you are actually steering a flawless arc through a left-hand bend on a serpentine road. And were it not for the autumn leaves on the shoulder of the road - and the fact that a tiny part of your brain still remembers it’s springtime outdoors - it would be impossible to tell that the scene is only a simulation. And that’s exactly the point: Everything seems so real. The instrument panel with its cluster of dials, the sun visors, the A-pillar separating the windshield from the side window - they’re all there. What’s more, there’s even the familiar film of dirt on the part of the windshield where the wipers don’t reach - and which somewhat clouds the view of the road beyond.

And that’s really the essence of this project in “video-based ergonomics.” The two engineers’ objective is to be able to investigate - under “real” conditions, and as early as possible in the development process - how vehicle design affects a driver’s field of vision. Such tests are designed to answer questions like: Is the A-pillar sufficiently slender to ensure that an important part of the road will not be hidden from view when turning left? Does one design variant restrict driver visibility more than another? And if so, in what road situations does this apply?

> Ergonomics from the start
It wouldn’t be fair to suggest that vehicle developers have only just begun to pose such questions. Ergonomics has long been playing a very important role in vehicle development, with voluntary test persons asked to assess factors like the operability of switches and controls, the feeling of space within a car - and also driver visibility ahead, sideways and to the rear. Yet there is one major shortcoming with such an approach. “You’ve got to have real prototypes,” explains Bettina Westerburg. “But the prototypes aren’t even built until a relatively late stage in the development process. If it turns out that there are in fact problems with driver visibility, it’s usually too late to change the design. And if such changes are unavoidable, the needed modifications are very costly."    (Continued via AutoSpies)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Ergonomics Video - Ergonomics

Ergonomics Video

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