Smooth and safe tram journeys: Tram driver perspectives and opportunities using a haptic master controller in a virtual reality environment

Tiziana C. Callari, Michael Mortimer, Louise Moody, Medhi Seyedmahmoudian, Ryan Lewis, Ben Horan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Tram drivers operate a master controller to control the acceleration and braking of the tram. Operation should ensure passenger comfort and safety through smooth tram motion and the avoidance of jerkiness that may cause passengers to fall in the carriage. This work investigates current driver practices and strategies for tram driving in normal operations through interviews and the capacity of a new haptic master controller to support drivers in achieving smooth and safe tram journeys. A haptic feedback algorithm based on viscosity was implemented on the master controller to provide drivers with feedback on the rate at which they were accelerating and braking the tram. This aspect was tested in a virtual tram within a simulated inner city virtual reality environment. Results indicate that the haptic master controller and coupled viscosity feedback algorithm did not increase smoothness of driving during the simulated experiences. Despite this, the drivers indicated a preference for the provision of further haptic information to support driving tasks and the overall journey safety and smoothness.

Practitioner summary: This research comprises two studies. The first investigates strategies currently used by drivers to operate a tram smoothly in order to elicit design requirements for a haptic tram master controller. The second study evaluates the impact of a novel haptic master controller on journey smoothness within a virtual environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-466
Number of pages22
Issue number3
Early online date6 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


Funding Information: This work was supported by Coventry University (UK) under the Grant Scheme Cross-Centre International and Interdisciplinary Pilot Projects? (Award No. 13705-03), and supported by internal Deakin University (Australia) research funding.


  • Simulated tram environment,
  • haptic technology
  • tram driver practices
  • tacit knowledge elicitation
  • ‘Instruction to the Double’ method
  • Simulated tram environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Smooth and safe tram journeys: Tram driver perspectives and opportunities using a haptic master controller in a virtual reality environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this