The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Research Area: Human Factors

In the Human Factors Group, we design products, interfaces, and systems that make peoples’ lives more safe, healthy, enjoyable and productive. We use a state-of-the-art driving simulator to study the effects of in-vehicle technologies on driver performance and collaborate with physicians and nurses to design information systems that help care providers co-manage patients’ chronic diseases. By designing systems that account for how people see, hear, think, and physically function, our research is leading to transportation and healthcare systems that save lives and money.

Research Laboratories

Human Performance Lab

The Arbella Insurance Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) is a multi-disciplinary research facility at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, based in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Since the HPL’s founding in the 1980s, the lab’s research has focused on driver behavior and driver safety, and this research has contributed to the understanding of driving, and the identification of factors that:

  • increase the crash risk of novice and older drivers
  • impact the effectiveness of traffic signs, signals, and pavement markings
  • improve the interface of in-vehicle equipment such as forward collision warning systems, back over collision warning systems, and music retrieval systems, and
  • influence drivers’ understanding of advanced parking management systems, advanced traveler information systems, and dynamic message signs

The HPL has created PC-based programs to train drivers to anticipate potential roadway hazards, and to maintain their attention on the forward roadway. The lab’s driving research is conducted using two state-of-the-art driving simulators, and simulator software, and equipment such as eye trackers, head trackers, and portable camera systems that can be used both in the lab and in the field.