Conducting human factors research in test track and on-road environments often requires allowing participants to drive the roadways themselves and recording their driving behaviors. To accomplish this the HumanFIRST Laboratory operates two vehicles instrumented by the University of Minnesota Intelligent Vehicles Lab and has access to additional instrumented vehicles.
For research on test tracks or on open roads, a 2001 Infiniti M45 collects performance variables using a comprehensive vehicle data acquisition (VehDAQ) system. The VehDAQ, developed by the Intelligent Vehicles Lab and employed in several projects for the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), has been designed and implemented to capture, measure, and record vehicle movements and human actions in real time.
Key features of the VehDAQ include:
- 30 Hz camera images with real-time video compression. Four camera views are provided: driver's hands, driver's feet (using an infrared camera), driver's face (to record distribution of visual attention), and a forward view through the windshield. The four video images are synchronized with each other and with all engineering data collected by the vehDAQ.
- Real time differentially corrected global positioning (DGPS) to determine vehicle position on roadway and lateral position within the lane of travel. The Minnesota Department of Transportation Virtual Reference System provides real time DGPS corrections.
- On-board geospatial database for vehicle position tracking on test track. Key elements of the roadway (e.g., lane boundaries, center lane) of test tracks can be measured and stored in an on-board database. In combination with DGPS data, the database is used to determine the lane-keeping ability of test participants as they travel a test track.
- Inertial measurement unit to record lateral, longitudinal, and vertical accelerations and vehicle pitch, yaw, and roll rates. These measure driver braking behavior and vehicle ride quality.
- Throttle and steering wheel position to measure driver interaction with the test vehicle.
- Removable hard drive for ease and security of data transfer to local server.
The test motorcycle operated by the HumanFIRST Laboratory is an instrumented 2000 Honda Shadow VT1100 equipped with outriggers that pivot from the lower frame to prevent the vehicle from tipping sideways onto the rider; during normal operation, the outriggers do not provide balance or support for the motorcycle, allowing the rider to maintain complete control of the vehicle.
To measure and record participant and motorcycle movement, a Motorcycle Data Acquisition (MoDAQ) system was developed and installed on the motorcycle by the Intelligent Vehicles Lab. This system consists of a suite of sensors attached to the rider and to control surfaces of the motorcycle to measure steering, brake, and throttle activation. In addition, separate six-axis inertial measurement units (IMUs) are fixed to the rider's helmet and the center of the motorcycle frame to measure three axes of acceleration and three axes of rotational rate. Data from all instruments is recorded to an onboard microprocessor with a removable hard drive.
The MoDAQ is also configured for real-time monitoring of the motorcycle location within a digitized test course using differentially corrected GPS (DGPS). This configuration provides location data in each time sample from which to derive performance measures based on lateral (e.g., passing distance to obstacle) and longitudinal (e.g., speed) position. In addition, location-based data are used to automatically trigger specific sound files that present test instructions to participants using helmet-mounted speakers.
Trucks, buses, and other vehicles
Through its close relationship with the Intelligent Vehicles Lab, the HumanFIRST Laboratory has access to several highway-legal instrumented vehicles. These vehicles include the Safetruck (International Eagle 9400 tractor-trailer), the Safeplow (International 2540 snowplow), and a commercial city bus.