Vehicle Transformation applied driver-vehicle interface design and control improvements to vehicles themselves. We explore modifications in the driving experience that promote safer vehicle operation and instill confidence in the driver.
The ability to easily and rapidly alter vehicle characteristics is a crosscutting need for both older and disabled drivers. Such changes range from simple preferences to costly vehicle modification. As an example of the former, a driver with a high frequency hearing loss would need to change their in-vehicle navigation system from the default female voice to a male voice. End users and clinicians noted that advances in vehicle systems have, in some cases, led to more difficulty with vehicle modification (e.g., it is hard to configure hand controls for vehicles with ABS due to nuisance brake light activation).
Much of these issues can be addressed through application of universal design and incorporation of recommendations from related efforts (e.g., RERC on Wheelchair Transportation Safety). As such, this project is not an effort to design vehicles for automakers. Instead, this project's goal is to conduct basic research that enables safer driving through key design and vehicle control improvements.
These efforts consist of short, focused case studies on topics like drive-by-wire, payment for vehicle transformation, and voice activated controls.