AbstractEnabled through the advancement of vehicle automation, driverless first and last mile mobility vehicles are emerging through public trials around the world. However, due to the focus on the complex technology, the end users have not yet received sufficient attention. The user requirements in regards to the comfort and user experience in driverless first and last mile mobility vehicles subsequently remain relatively unknown.
This thesis therefore investigated and evaluated passenger comfort and experience in the context of driverless first and last mile mobility vehicles through a novel design proposal and proposes design recommendations for such vehicles.
The 1st chapter introduces the research topic and the context for the research work as well as detailing the overall aim and objectives for the thesis.
In the 2nd chapter, a literature review is used to establish the state of the art for driverless vehicles with the focus on first and last mile mobility and the passenger comfort experience. Furthermore, likely scenarios, operators and passengers for such vehicles were also identified. This review demonstrated that the advancement in driverless vehicle technology has now reached a point that allows to critically investigate the potential benefits and issues with such vehicles.
The 3rd chapter introduces the concept of iterative and user centred design as an overall approach for the research work and details the individual methods used. Along with traditional tools such as focus groups, surveys and observations an ergonomic buck was constructed to conduct user trials. Lastly, a new methodology was developed using the ergonomic buck as a basis for a fully immersive design experience and evaluation tool.
Following on from the literature review, in the 4th chapter, a theoretical passenger comfort model for driverless first and last mile mobility vehicles was proposed.
Here eight factors were identified which influence the passenger comfort and wellbeing in driverless first and last mile mobility vehicles and ranked them based on the perceived importance.
These were subsequently used to create a benchmark of current driverless first and last mile mobility vehicles in chapter 5. Using the aforementioned comfort model to evaluate ten existing driverless first and last mile mobility concepts further shortcomings in the areas of passenger comfort and usability as well as user perception were identified.
The information gathered from the initial activities was then used in the 7th chapter to produce a design specification for a driverless first and last mile vehicle for a range of typical scenarios. A vehicle design concept which included the appearance, package and ergonomic features was then created in line with the specification and discussed in detail in chapter 8.
For an initial evaluation, described in chapter 9, the exterior appearance and user acceptability of six vehicle designs, including the proposed design, was evaluated through questionnaires and focus groups. The results indicated that the proportions, colours and face of each vehicle have a significant impact on the perception of the vehicle behaviour and stability.
In a second study, covered in chapter 10, the ergonomic aspects of the proposed vehicle concept such as the seat height and handrail placement were evaluated using a digital model with the PLM Siemens Jack software. This study highlighted initial issues with the seat height and depth as well as with the overhead handrail. A number of adjustments were undertaken to improve on the identified issues and continuously re-evaluated in the software.
Subsequently, an ergonomic buck was built, which is detailed in chapter 11, to undertake user tests, focussing on aspects of physical comfort, reach, visibility, and accessibility using a range of potential future users including elderly and visually impaired, discussed as a third study in chapter 12. These tests identified a number of requirements specific to those with visual and mobility impairments and supported further adjustments to the handrail placements and the shape of the seats.
For the following evaluation stage, suitable software and hardware were evaluated, selected and then integrated into a mixed reality simulation, a research tool which is discussed in detail in chapter 13. The mixed reality simulator was subsequently used by a test population of users to evaluate further aspects of the vehicle, design features such as natural light influx, interior lights placement and materials. The seating arrangement was also re-evaluated along with the visibility from and into the vehicle and the results written up in chapter 14.
Finally, the entire process, the overall evaluation of the design and of the approach used, were synthesised in the 15th chapter, in order to develop a list of suggestions outlining design features with the aim to enhance the passenger comfort and experience in driverless first and last mile mobility vehicles.
In summary, this thesis investigated and evaluated passenger comfort and experience in driverless first and last mile mobility vehicles and proposed a novel vehicle concept for this type of vehicle. Lastly the thesis concludes with a set of design recommendations for driverless first and last mile mobility vehicles with the aim to improve the passenger comfort and experience in this vehicle type.
|Date of Award||Feb 2020|
|Sponsors||HORIBA MIRA Ltd.|
|Supervisor||Cyriel Diels (Supervisor), Andrew Parkes (Supervisor) & Michael Tovey (Supervisor)|