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CREATE Researchers Series: Sebastian Stadler on Designing Tomorrow’s Human-Machine Interfaces for Autonomous Vehicles

Designing Tomorrow’s Human-Machine Interfaces for Autonomous Vehicles using immersive Virtual Reality 17.07.2019


A Human-Machine Interface (HMI) plays an important role in connecting people to new technologies. With the introduction of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs), studies have shown that the unfamiliarity of its operation raises concerns on its use and safety. This is especially magnified when it comes to using AVs as public transport, a primary commute method used by many in Singapore. Hence, by incorporating HMIs with AVs, it could potentially smooth the transition and lessen anxiety and discomfort for commuters when AVs dominate the road in the future.


Our Research Associate, Sebastian Stadler, shared on his research on Designing Tomorrow’s Human-Machine Interfaces for Autonomous Vehicles using immersive Virtual Reality (VR) at the monthly CREATE Researcher Seminar.



Sebastian first shared insights about a VR study that he conducted to investigate to which extent explicit HMIs can release anxiety for passengers of public autonomous buses. He shared that there have been reports of issues with testing AVs, such as complexity and safety, and the use of VR would be able to provide more convenience and eliminate the danger that comes with real-life experiments with AVs.


Two concepts of HMI were then tested out – Concept One used coloured LED stripes to indicate vehicle’s detection and intention, while Concept Two included a semi-transparent screen that allowed passengers to be aware of the vehicle’s surrounding.


So, which concept did the users prefer? Sebastian went on to share that HMI concepts indeed supported passengers and users were more receptive to Concept Two.


When questions were opened to the audience, one asked if HMI should be available permanently which Sebastian replied that the use of HMI can be slowly phased out over time when people were familiar with the technology. Another was interested in how the test were carried out to which Sebastian explained on how users were given time to familiarize themselves with the VR environment first.


The presentation was then concluded with the future steps to look forward in the research such as revising the test environment, increasing sample size for data collection and including physiological sensors.


Stadler, S., Cornet, H., Huang, D. and Frenkler, F. (2019) ‘Designing Tomorrow’s Human-Machine Interfaces in Autonomous Vehicles: An Exploratory Study in Virtual Reality’, in Proceedings of the 5th International Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Conference. Munich, Germany. (In Press)

About Sebastian Stadler

After graduating from the Technical University of Munich in the field of Industrial Design, Sebastian Stadler joined TUMCREATE as a Research Associate / PhD candidate in January 2017. His main research topic focuses on combining conventional design methods with immersive Virtual Reality technology to integrate VR design methods into every stage of the design process. Case studies include the interaction of pedestrians and passengers with Autonomous Vehicles as well as spatial preferences and the usage of dynamic guidance systems at future transit hubs in the era of autonomous transport.