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July 20, 2015

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Feature preview: Moving up a gear

Simulator at Southampton University

In the August issue of SHP magazine, Steve Barraclough looks at the important role ergonomists and human factors specialists play in managing work-related road safety.

More drivers are facing longer commutes to work, and traffic incidents may involve someone who is driving a car as part of their work at the time. Keeping safe and comfortable while driving is of paramount importance, which is where ergonomists and human factors specialists come in.

Ergonomics plays a large role in car design and how drivers use their vehicles – it’s not just about how comfortable the driver’s seat is. In fact, as Barraclough argues, ergonomics, or the lack thereof, has a role to play in safety in the event of an accident.

The article examines ergonomics at Jaguar Land Rover, Britain’s largest car manufacturer, and the latest virtual engineering technology it uses to test and make real-time design changes before the cars are even built.

Barraclough goes on to discuss driverless cars and the role human factors play in autonomous vehicles, arguing that, while technology can support some driver shortcomings, the hands-off vision of an autopilot for cars is not yet a reality. A human monitor will still be needed in case of emergency, but this raises further questions. How far will this driver be responsible for the vehicle? And if a human driver is needed to keep an eye on the car, how much is their workload diminished?

Barraclough looks at how to answer these questions through learning from automation used elsewhere.

This article will appear in the August issue, out at the beginning of the month.

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