- A patent on an interaction concept is filed by Scania.
- With this master thesis I concluded my master studies Design for Interaction at the TU Delft.
- Insights are gained on interface design for tele-remote driving of heavy road vehicles.
- Four interface concepts were developed. One of these concepts has been evaluated.
In this era of drastic change in road transportation being a driver is about to get a new meaning.
Autonomous cars are on the rise. The one big hurdle however is how computers are to asses road situations.
Not one situation is the same. Especially city driving is bridge to far for these semi-autonomous vehicles of today.
Highway driving is more straightforward and thus can autonomous driving be expected earlier on the roads outside the city areas.
Here lies an opportunity for the transport sector to benefit from driverless vehicles.
When vehicles are driverless a driver no longer needs to be paid, nor is a cabin required.
These trucks or busses without driver seat may be driving by itself in the not to far future.
This however only counts for the less complex traffic situations.
A solution for driving through the city could be a remote control center.
This is where my thesis comes in. A remote control solution for driving road vehicles needs a good human machine interface.
This new remote driver (operator) needs to deal with a traffic situation (at least) just as good as while in a vehicle.
My task was to find out what is required for such an interface.
The project was divided into four phases.
It started off with research in the form of a literature study and interviews with both drivers and experts in the field of automation.
Based on these findings a design framework was constructed that formed the backbone for development of interface concepts.
In the ideation & conceptualisation phase a scenario was created to bridge between the more conceptual framework and real world design opportunities.
In a creative session ideas were generated that were worked out further into interface concepts. At last one of the concepts was worked out further for evaluation of its potential.
The design framework described the relevant factors of human machine interaction for remotely driving heavy road vehicles.
In this project the framework had multiple applications.
At first the framework gave an understanding of the factors at stake for interface design.
Besides that it was used as a checklist in the ideation & conceptualisation phase to select ideas and concepts.
At last the framework can also be used to evaluate interface concepts on the various aspects; this project however did not reach that point.
Tele-remote driving model
One of the interesting aspects of the framework is the aspect of information transportation.
In a (tele-)remote driving situation information from the vehicle and its surroundings does no longer come directly to the driver.
This information needs to transported digitally after which it is presented to the driver. This bears the risk that information is conveyed in a non comprehensible manner.
An example could be that of a biker. When the information of that bikers position on the road is brought to the remote driver as a point the driver does not know where the biker is heading.
It is thus important that not only the information about this biker is captured properly, but also that this information is presented in an appropriate manner to the remote driver.
This project resulted in four concepts for a tele-remote control interface for heavy road vehicles.
Due to time constraints one of these concepts was further explored.
Concept 1 : You are the truck
This concept is about creating a driving experience that takes you away from the control room.
There is a 360 view available via VR glasses that surrounds you with the vehicle environment.
Movements of the steering wheel make you feel the trucks behaviour and air paddings in the seat give you a push to make you feel the inertial feedback.
Concept 2 : Drone view
While driving needs for visual information differ based on speed and heading. Driving fast on a highway requires to look far ahead to anticipate in time.
Doing close manoeuvring at a distribution centre is easier with a top view and reversing naturally requires to see more what goes on behind the vehicle.
Using a drone enables to get the desired perspective on the road for each situation.
In most situations lens distortion is not much desired, however in this case a wide angle lens can help to both show a bird perspective and a front view in one.
By doing so visual information is not scattered and therefore easier to understand.
Concept 3 : 3D-Controller
3D-drive is about a physical model of the truck placed on a screen.
On the screen the surroundings of the vehicle are shown using the 360 footage captured with a set of cameras on the actual vehicle.
The scaled down model is fixed at one position on the screen whereas the the road on the screen moves.
The vehicle model functions as a controller as well. Feedback is given by adding elements in the footage such as tire tracks.
Concept 4 : Driving room
The operator room is a room covered with screens. The room is as wide as a normal distribution truck, but not as deep. This gives a perception of the truck dimensions.
The chair on the illustration here is to high, preventing you from looking backwards. A lower chair is there for required.
Motion feedback through a steering wheel
One of the concepts is partically further evaluated. Eventually Scania decided to file a patent on this concept.
Research (Correia Gracio 2009) indicates that driver performance in advanced driving manoeuvres improves with motion feedback.
Good driver performance is obviously required for remote control of heavy road vehicles.
A complex motion simulator may contribute to that goal, but comes with a serious pricetag.
A concept was developed to avoid these costs and still provide the required motion feedback.
By means of a moving steering wheel acceleration and deceleration was simulated.
Steering wheel behaviour
Through the steering wheel a remote operator is to sense acceleration of the vehicle.
The behaviour of the steering wheel is based on what a driver would feel when being in a vehicle.
When a vehicle accelerates fiercely the driver is pushed backwards.
This means that the driver is pushed away from the steering wheel.
The opposite happens when a vehicle decelerates fiercely.
To recreate this experience the steering wheel moves forwards on acceleration and backwards on deceleration.