The Driver Interface Group, led by Dr. Paul Green, consists typically of about 8 people within the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), mostly students, interested in the development and evaluation of driver-operated equipment in motor vehicles. The emphasis of the group is on the design of controls, displays (especially symbols), and information systems (for navigation, warnings, advanced display systems, etc.), as well as more basic research on how people drive, driver workload, and driver eye fixations. The goal is to make those systems safe, easy, comfortable, and useful for drivers. In the literature terms such as ergonomics, human factors engineering, human engineering, engineering psychology, and man-machine engineering are used to describe this field.
Typical questions include:
- How does time to read an electronic map vary with the amount of information shown?
- What should drivers be allowed to do with a navigation system in a moving vehicle?
- What kinds of information on a HUD interfere with driving?
- What type of control is best for a menu-based information system?
Research is conducted using UMTRI's driving simulator and two instrumented cars. Research on other related issues, such as exterior lighting and signaling, rearview mirror systems, windshield glass, retroreflective materials, and adaptive cruise control is conducted by other scientists in the Human Factors Group. Research on driver anthropometry (size, reach, impact biomechanics) -- BioSciences Group and driver opinions -- Social and Behavioral Analysis Group is also conducted at UMTRI. The Group has strong ties to the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering of which Dr. Green is a faculty member.
UMTRI research is almost entirely supported by outside funds. Hence, to the outside world, UMTRI looks like a non-profit company supported by contracts. However, UMTRI is a University organization using University facilities, and follows University procedures for budgeting and publications. For over a quarter century, UMTRI has been well known for making significant conributions to driving safety and has an international reputation for high quality work.