Skip to main content

Über dieses Buch

Ergonomics teaches how to design technology in such a way that it is optimally adapted to the needs, wishes and characteristics of the user. In this context, the concept of the human-machine system has become established. In a systematic way and with a detailed view of the complicated technical and perceptual psychological and methodological connections, this book explains the basics of automotive ergonomics with numerous examples. The application is shown in examples such as package, design of displays and control elements, of environmental ergonomics such as lighting, sound, vibrations, climate and smell. The design of driver assistance systems from an ergonomic perspective is also a central topic. The book is rounded off by methods of ergonomic vehicle development, the use of mock-ups, driving simulators and tests in real vehicles and prototypes. For the first time, those responsible in the automotive industry and in the field of relevant research are provided with a specialized systematic work that provides the ergonomic findings in the design of today's automobiles. This provides planners and designers of today's automobiles with concrete information for ergonomic product development, enabling them to keep an eye on decisive requirements and subsequent customer acceptance.

This book is a translation of the original German 1st edition Automobilergonomie by Heiner Bubb, Klaus Bengler, Rainer E. Grünen & Mark Vollrath, published by Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature in 2015. The translation was done with the help of artificial intelligence (machine translation by the service A subsequent human revision was done primarily in terms of content, so that the book will read stylistically differently from a conventional translation. Springer Nature works continuously to further the development of tools for the production of books and on the related technologies to support the authors.



1. Inauguration

A historical outline of automotive history shows that vehicle developers have always strived to adapt the automobile to the needs of customers and users. With the ever more extensive possibilities of technology, however, it has become necessary to support this process with scientific methods. Goal of the field of knowledge ergonomics is to provide work equipment and conditions for the properties, skills and wishes of the human being. This discipline thus provides the basic knowledge for a design of the automobile that includes the user. The different areas of ergonomics are defined and explained. The analysis of the driver’s tasks is of fundamental importance, as is the investigation of the information flow between the subsystems involved in the overall traffic system.
The expansion and potentiation of one’s own mobility is an old dream of mankind, as it is also expressed in many legends and fairy tales. Early on, humans used the strange power of the animal to realize this wish. But it was only through the technical revolution that it became possible to develop machines that made this dream come true in unexpected ways. This realization is sold by a significantly increased energy turnover compared to that necessary for immediate living. However, the invention and introduction of the railway was also accompanied by the bundling of individual mobility interests, some of which had already been realised in the organised carriage service before (albeit not to the extent that had at that point become possible). All attempts to individualize the fulfillment of the need for mobility on the basis of existing (steam) technology were without resounding success. Only the invention of the automobile brought the breakthrough. Due to the high energy density of the petroleum derivative petrol or diesel oil, the drive by the rather sophisticated combustion engine has prevailed over the much easier to handle, originally competing, electric motor. The various facets that go hand in hand with this kind of immediate, highly individual control of a machine continue to fascinate users of automobiles to this day. However, the triumph of the automobile over the world is also associated with considerable disadvantages, which today are the subject of intense scientific, economic and political debates. The advantage of the high energy density of fossil fuels and their use in automobiles means that almost one quarter of the total anthrogenic CO2 input into the atmosphere is caused by individual traffic. Particularly in the conurbations of modern megacities, the pollution caused by exhaust emissions can reach an unbearable level with considerable health consequences. The barely controlled interaction between driver and vehicle, and the freedom experienced in the process, but also fundamental deficits in human perception and reaction capacity cause deaths and injuries worldwide. The number of these is only slightly less than that caused by illness and other accidents. The attractiveness of the automobile for both the realization of economic and private needs, as well as in creating jobs for their production, maintenance and operation, is a very important factor for the economic prosperity of a society. Last but not least, automobile freight traffic, automobile supply and rescue services, and automobile excursion traffic considerably enhance the quality of life so that a life without an automobile - in whatever form - is hardly imaginable.
Heiner Bubb

2. The Control Loop Paradigm of Ergonomics

A scientifically based ergonomic design of a technical device first of all requires a precise description of the task it is intended to perform. With the concept of the control loop, the flow of information can be described, which leads from the task via the person operating the machine (vehicle) to the result. With these means, the quality of the task fulfillment can be quantitatively described, especially under the aspect that the corresponding processes run dynamically. If the required quality limits are exceeded, this is referred to as a fault, which can have both technical and, in particular, human causes. The associated accident risk can be estimated and measures to reduce it can be derived from this.
Heiner Bubb

3. The Human Being as a Driver

In order to adapt the vehicle to human being, knowledge of some of his characteristics and abilities is essential. Specifically, the characteristics of the individual sensory organs are presented (information reception), the way in which the experienced driver’s well-practiced activity is to be understood and how decisions are made in changed situations, and in particular, how they are limited (information processing). In addition, the structures underlying the innervation of the musculature are reproduced (information implementation). This includes in particular the feeling for time, the eye behaviour when driving, but also emotional aspects, such as the feeling of comfort and discomfort and the individual reaction of the driver to the load given by the driving task. The resulting driving errors and their causes are explained in detail.
Heiner Bubb, Mark Vollrath, Klaus Reinprecht, Erhard Mayer, Moritz Körber

4. Anatomical and Anthropometric Characteristics of the Driver

In addition to the cognitive characteristics of the driver, the physical capabilities of the human being is of great importance for the design of the vehicle. This is referred to as anthropometry. It refers to the geometric properties of the entire physiological apparatus as well as to the use of body strenght. The structure of the skeletal system with the articulation of joints and the mode of action of the musculature will be described in detail. Of particular interest for the design of the vehicle are the longitudinal and circumferential dimensions, the weights, the power capability, and the agility of the vehicle occupants. It also deals with the increasingly important dependence of these measures on age.
Rainer E. Grünen, Fabian Günzkofer, Heiner Bubb

5. Human Models

In order to adapt the “hard” technical tool car to the “soft” characteristics of man, models about human behavior and characteristics are necessary, which make an objectification of the degree of adaptation possible. With today’s methods and means of computer technology, a large part of both the cognitive and anthropometric properties of humans can be modelled and simulated in computers. With the cognitive human models a distinction can be made between control engineering models, which describe the dynamic interaction between driver and vehicle, and cognitive models in the narrower sense, which also reflect behaviour in more complex traffic situations. Today, anthropometric human models have become very important for the design of vehicles. Starting from the still used drawing templates, a multitude of digital human models are available, which on the one hand represent purely geometric properties of humans, but on the other hand also model biomechanical properties. The models used today in automotive development are described in terms of their properties and capabilities. The future of human modeling is characterized by the integration of cognitive, biomechanical and anthropometric models.
Heiner Bubb

6. System Ergonomics of the Vehicle

The flow of information between driver and vehicle plays the dominant role in the safe handling of automobiles. The investigation and description of this flow of information is the subject of the so-called system ergonomics. The starting point for the consideration is the function lying in the task. Decisive for the driver’s ability to cope in the technical environment is the appropriate feedback on the success of the action and the ease of the transition between the mentally present action goal and the action necessary for its realisation (compatibility). These fundamental considerations are the basis for the design of displays and operating elements whose correct use depends on the different levels of the driving task. Since the vehicle looks like an extension of the driver’s hands and feet from a system ergonomics point of view, the design of the driving-relevant characteristics is the special focus of the system ergonomics consideration. In particular, the steering feel and the feeling of the longitudinal dynamics are investigated. Modern possibilities of X-by-Wire are also the subject of consideration.
Heiner Bubb, Klaus Bengler, Jurek Breuninger, Christian Gold, Magnus Helmbrecht

7. Anthropometric Vehicle Design

The classic field of ergonomic vehicle design is the so-called vehicle packaging which defines the free space for drivers and passengers. Extensive SAE regulations have been developed for this purpose. The use of modern digital human models complements and partially redefines the application of these regulations. The following fields of work in vehicle-related anthropometric ergonomics are presented in detail: Since driving can in principle only take place in a seated position and long distances are often traveled, the highest demands must be placed on seats and seating positions. More than 90% of the information to be recorded for driving is done via the sight. Therefore, the design of technical elements that can impair visibility and support has elementary importance. Also operating and display components must be accommodated in the so-called visual and grasping space of the human being. An important role continues to be played by the room feeling. This refers not only to the driver’s workplace, but also to that of the front passenger and to the second and third rows of seats. Special attention is paid to the entry and exit, especially with regard to the age shift of the population. To this end, various models have been developed to optimise access to the vehicle. In addition to driving, the loading of the vehicle plays an important role for acceptance. A separate subchapter is dedicated to the consideration of specific user groups, especially older vehicle users and children. The chapter is concluded by an examination of the so-called craftsmanship, which among other things is the joy of the product and its desirability.
Heiner Bubb, Rainer E. Grünen, Wolfram Remlinger

8. Design of Condition Safety

The general structural scheme of the human-machine system in ◘ Fig. 1.​9 as well as the description of the sub-areas of ergonomics in ►  Chap. 1 identifies so-called environmental ergonomics as an important sub-area of this science. Environment influence the driver’s interaction with his vehicle. With regard to environmental influences, a distinction must be made between physical and social environmental influences. The latter cannot be ergonomically designed (The notice in public vehicles (bus, tram) “Do not speak to the driver” refers to these social environmental influences. It is intended to ensure that the driver is not distracted from his or her actual task by being involved in a conversation or by annoyance with unpleasant contemporaries). The “classical” physical environmental factors are lighting, sound (“noise“), mechanical vibrations (“suspension”), climate (“heating and air conditioning”) and odour. The influence of these factors on the driver can be positive or negative in the sense of stimulation or stress. This is why they make a significant contribution to so-called condition safety, because with the right design they can ensure that the driver remains awake and motivated. In addition, only the factors of climate and odour influence the flow of information between driver and vehicle in the sense of a control disturbance. For the factors lighting, sound and mechanical vibrations, in addition to this influencing property, they also provide direct feedback regarding the driving process. Using the example of speed perception, the influences sight, auditory sense, and kinaesthesia could be filtered out in a combined experiment of simulator and real experiments (Bubb. Journal of Ergonomics. 31:103–112, 1977). Using all sensory channels, a relatively good perception of the speed level is given with a tendency to slightly over- and underestimate depending on the speed sequence. If only individual sensory channels are available, speed differences may be perceived too little or not at all. Combinations of sensory channels may occasionally lead to an improvement in the perception of speed differences and speed levels, but also to the opposite.
Heiner Bubb

9. Driver Assistance

From an ergonomic point of view, any support of human action by technical means constitutes assistance. Assistance can therefore take place on all three levels of the tasks while driving. However, due to the possibilities of technical sensor technology and information processing, assistance systems that focus on the primary driving task (Navigation, Guidance and Stabilisation) have moved into special interest. Especially by supporting the guidance task, driving a car is changed considerably compared to the usual. The currently available driver assistance systems including the fatigue warning system are described and categorized from an ergonomic perspective. In particular, it will be investigated in what way and with what prospect of success driver assistance systems contribute to the driving safety. Special ergonomic suggestions are made for the design of operation and display as well as for the differentiability of the different states of the driver assistance systems.
Heiner Bubb, Klaus Bengler

10. Methods of Ergonomic Vehicle Development

The product development process of a new vehicle model is characterized by a high degree of complexity, which is primarily due to the interaction of numerous creative employees both within the organization of the automobile manufacturer and in the supplier environment and with various service providers. The chronological sequence of this product development process is used to characterise the areas in which ergonomic findings and measures are used to a special degree. In addition to the use of digital human models, investigations with test subjects play an important role in this context. The different methods for the simulation of anthropometric conditions such as experiments with seat boxes, variable ergonomics test benches in connection with virtual reality and the simulation of driving and traffic dynamic aspects using driving simulators are explained. The different simulator techniques as well as their expressiveness depending on the technical condition of the installation are taken into account. Tests with real vehicles and the special techniques used, which take place on closed test grounds or in public road traffic, are also presented. Finally, the influence of customer feedback on ergonomic design is examined.
Heiner Bubb

11. Measurement Techniques

Any new development of a vehicle is only justified if it is characterised by innovations of what has been available so far. Since innovations generally require high technical and financial expenditure for their realisation, it is necessary to ensure by means of tests whether the expected effect (safety, usability, attractiveness, etc.) is actually achieved before a complex production and market offer is realised. The techniques explained in the previous chapter are applied here in practice. The scientific requirements for experiments are defined by the demand for objectivity (the result is independent of test conditions and of the person carrying out the test), reliability (a repetition of the experiment comes to the same result) and validity (it is really measured what is subject of the investigation). An attempt is made to meet these requirements by means of appropriate experimental design. A distinction is made between objective and subjective measurements. The objective measurements include individual anthropometric measures, postures and body movements, contact forces, eye movements, measurements of performance when performing a driving task and the acquisition of physiological parameters. Subjective measurements are characterized by interviewing test subjects. Therefore, fundamental aspects of the so-called psychophysics are explained followed by questions on interview techniques and the creation and use of standardized questionnaires.
Klaus Bengler, Heiner Bubb, Christian Lange, Carmen Aringer-Walch, Nicole Trübswetter, Antonia Conti-Kufner, Markus Zimmermann

12. Statistical Methods

In particular, studies that use test persons in any form face the problem of data variance, which goes far beyond the extent to which one is used to in the technical field. Statistical methods are used to determine whether a result found in an experiment can be accepted or must be rejected. Two different types of questions can be distinguished, namely: Determination of the expression of certain characteristics in the relevant population (e.g.: is the test subject group used representative of the later clientele?) and examination of the difference in various conditions (e.g.: does a new display instrument lead to shorter reaction times than the conventional one?) For the first question the questions of sampling and the determination of the respective characteristics are of particular interest. The confidence interval indicates how precisely a sampling parameter reflects the conditions of the population. If it is a question of the difference between different conditions (second question), a test plan has to be drawn up with regard to the statistical evaluability depending on the object of investigation. Significance tests can then be used to decide on the acceptance of an experimental result. In doing so, one has to especially protect oneself against the so-called alpha and beta error, which each characterize the probability of a wrong decision. Since the results of such statistical evaluations often show multiple dependencies, special attention must be paid to the type of presentation (tabular or graphic) in order to make the result clear to the user of the study.
Mark Vollrath

13. Outlook

Already in the introductory ► Sect. 1.​1 of this book, the current main lines of development of the automobile were discussed. With technical progress, aspects described there will gain even more importance. Since technical developments always have an impact on the interaction between man and machine, they will influence the driver’s interaction possibilities with the vehicle in a new way. At this point, the trends that will determine the further development are listed again.
Climate change represents an enormous challenge for the use of technology and thus for the entire technical development. Automobile traffic powered by combustion engines accounts for between a third and a half of the CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. It is hoped that replacing the combustion engine with the electric motor will help to solve the problem. However, this advantage comes at the expense of the energy-intensive design of batteries, significantly reduced ranges and new challenges for the air conditioning of vehicle interiors. The use of hydrogen in combination with fuel cells is therefore being discussed especially in connection with heavy goods traffic and public transport, which would retain the advantage of the electric motor, but one could reckon with today’s usual ranges and refuelling times. The use of the electric motor would, among other things, lead to a change in the driver-vehicle interaction in the sense that the partial recovery of the vehicle’s kinetic energy through recuperation must be integrated into the driving process in a way that is understandable and usable for the driver. In addition to these technologies based on electric propulsion, research and work is also being done on artificially generated fuels, the so-called E-fuels, which would continue to enable the conventional drive system. In all cases, however, it is essential that the regenerative electrical energy is most reasonable for the various concepts.
Even if the probability of accidents of individual vehicles can be estimated as relatively low (see also ► Sect. 2.​6), the enormous number of vehicles integrated into traffic alone is making a terrifying number of road deaths and injuries in all societies of the world. Since it can be assumed that at least about 90% of traffic accidents are caused by inadequate human actions, the positive effects of assistance systems are being relied upon and it is even hoped that a significant reduction in accidents will be achieved through the use of autonomous vehicles that can completely dispense with the human driver. The use of such systems has a significant effect on the interaction between driver and vehicle (see ► Chap. 9), and as technical development progresses, this also requires corresponding ergonomic research and support.
Avoiding discomfort also has a significant impact on the health of transport users. Particularly in connection with new types of usage possibilities, such as those offered by autonomous means of transport, there are demands on anthropometric design, but also on the design of so-called condition safety (► Chap. 8). An important aspect in this context is the acceptance by the users, which is, however, also determined by comfort (in the sense of pleasure), which is often characterized by the keyword “joy of use”. Current technical developments, such as active control of the vehicle body (e.g. reduction of the influence of road bumps on passengers, avoidance of rolling motion when cornering; Wenzelis. Optimiertes Wankverhalten durch aktive Fahrwerkssysteme und empfindungsoptimierte Objektivierung. Dissertation, Technische Universität München, 2018) make accompanying ergonomic research necessary here.
Particularly in urban areas, the density of individual vehicles is so high that traffic is often at a standstill. This effect not only has disadvantages in terms of CO2 input into the atmosphere, but also represents a significant impairment of mobility and quality of life in the cities. As a result, new aspects of traffic behavior and mobility concepts will be the subject of research and development in the future.
Klaus Bengler, Heiner Bubb


Weitere Informationen

Premium Partner