The driver and the instrument panel

Abstract: The trend today is to produce automobiles that have exciting systems which enhance the users' driving experiences, however, the distraction potential of these systems has not fully been considered. Since there can be large differences in the driver's level of distraction caused by visual overload due to individual and cultural characteristics. Therefore, three different markets were chosen due to their distinct vehicle and driving traditions and laws; China, Sweden and United States of America (US). The aim of this thesis, from an instrumentation design point of view, is to gain a better understanding of what information, and where information should be presented, in instrument panels to achieve low levels of distraction and, hence, decrease cognitive load, increase safety and functionality. Studies undertaken in this thesis sought a user based solution. The questionnaire results showed that safety attributes were ranked before, quality, practicality, and attractiveness in automobiles. The number one concernfor the Chinese market was safety features presented to them from HDD in the instrument panel, the Swedish market preferred the traditional features and placements, the US preferred safety features and those assisting in safe driving to be placed in the HUD. A high-fidelity driving simulator was used to study respondents of varied age and driving experience, of which drove through both rural and city traffic with speed limits ranging from 50 to 70 km/hour while responding to information presented in HUD, HDD, IF, and CS positions. All groups rated the HUD as a very good placement for information retrieval while driving, followed by HDD, IF, and CS respectively. The overall preferred placement was HUD as it also was the preferred position of serious failures and vehicle operation. The results from both studies showed that people wanted logical groupings of driver information placed in the vehicle so to reduce the risk of distraction.

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