Faculty of Engineering

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Gary Burnett

Professor of Transport Human Factors, Faculty of Engineering



Gary Burnett is a member of the Human Factors Research Group.

Expertise Summary

My overall area of expertise is in Human Factors/Ergonomics. Specifically, the group I lead within the Human Factors Research Group addresses human-centred issues related to the development of technology within road-based vehicles. In this research, we aim to provide the necessary understanding to develop appropriate user-interfaces (or human-machine interfaces - HMIs) for use in the vehicle/driving environment. In this context, "appropriate" may mean "carry out tasks quick, with few errors", "workload that is not too high", "satisfying/engaging", and so on. Often we are considering variables related to safety, for instance the potential for driver distraction with different HMIs. Distraction may be visual (eyes off road), cognitive (mind off road) or biomechanical (limbs off primary controls). Increasingly, our group is carrying out research investigating issues for highly automated future vehicles, such as how the "driver/user" and car will share control in a seamless fashion.

We often carry out experiments using driving simulators to investigate these variables in a safe, controlled and cost-effective environment. Alternatively, we commonly use instrumented vehicles as a means of conducting research in more realistic (ecologically valid) environments. To ensure maximum relevance/impact of our work, the research is frequently carried in collaboration with vehicle manufacturers.

Put simply, the three questions we aim to answer are:

  1. What are the impacts (in terms of safety, efficiency, comfort, engagement, etc.) of in-car technology systems on the driver?
  2. What is the potential for novel HMIs in a driving context, for example, natural speech, augmented reality head-up displays, gesture-driven interfaces, etc.?
  3. What methods and measures are appropriate for use in the design and evaluation of in-car computing systems?

Teaching Summary

I teach in the area of Human Factors Engineering and Human-Computer Interaction. I am currently convener for the following modules:

  • MM4PSW Physical Ergonomics (Autumn Semester)
  • MM4SIM Simulation and Digital Human Modelling (Autumn Semester)
  • MM4HCI Human-Computer Systems (Spring Semester)
  • MM4AMH Advanced Methods in Human Factors (Spring Semester)

Research Summary

Current funded research projects are addressing the following issues related to the design/evaluation of Human-Machine Interfaces (HMIs) for future vehicles:

  • The development of analytical methods to predict the visual demand of alternative HMIs early in the design process (sponsored by a major vehicle manufacturer)
  • How drivers interact with natural language HMIs in everyday driving (sponsored by a major vehicle manufacturer)
  • The potential for digital mirror displays to replace traditional mirrors within vehicles (sponsored by a major vehicle manufacturer)
  • The development of next generation collision avoidance systems to account for the needs of vulnerable road users, especially cyclists (the PROSPECT project, funded by the EU)
  • How the design of the HMI will impact on the user's trust and acceptance for future connected and highly automated vehicles (the i-Motors project, funded by Innovate UK)
  • Designing HMIs to support transfer of control in highly automated driving (sponsored by a major vehicle manufacturer)

Recent Publications

Future Research

I welcome enquiries from potential PhD candidates from Home, EU and international countries who are interested in the following research areas: Human Factors of future vehicles, including automated and autonomous vehicles. Human-Machine Interface design; Driver behaviour; Human Factors of navigation task.

Faculty of Engineering

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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