Motorola Labs researchers have expanded their studies and have now opened a new driver research facility, complete with a Class-2 Driving Simulator, in Tempe, Arizona. According to the company, with this new facility, Motorola researchers expect to take their study of the challenges facing drivers to the next level by researching how drivers interact with their vehicles and various types of on-board devices, as well as with multiple sources of incoming information. The research will focus on how drivers relate to their vehicles and how they receive, manage and prioritize information while driving. "By studying drivers in the automotive environment we will be able to design new products, systems and solutions that will actually prioritize, manage and deliver information appropriately," said Tom MacTavish, vice president and director, Human Interface Lab. "Such solutions will help drivers focus on their primary task, driving responsibly, while optimizing appropriate secondary interactions and the driving experience itself." According to Motorola, the facility allows researchers to study a subject in a simulated automotive environment, in order to answer key interaction questions such as:
- What are the best ways to present information so that the driver maintains a safe driving focus?
- What are the most effective cues to help keep the driver's attention focused on the driving task (e.g. cues to alert the driver that he has wandered over the center line)?
- How can intelligent systems assess the quality of the driver's attention to the driving task?

"Technology has already achieved much to enhance the driving experience and driver security through navigation aids, automatic crash notification and access to emergency services, and Motorola is a leader in developing and supplying smart embedded electronics for the automotive market," said Jacqueline Dedo, vice president of global market operations, Motorola Automotive Communications and Electronic Systems. "This research will allow Motorola, and our OEM customers, to effectively simulate a variety of driver inputs in a real world situation. This will ultimately provide a basis by which each vehicle manufacturer can determine how to deliver data to the driver, culminating in proactive information management products and systems."

According to Motorola, the lab uses many user-centered design tools, including focus groups, statistical inquiries, ethnographic inquiries, tasks analysis, usability studies and rapid prototyping. Motorola Labs also works with a variety of university, customer and national research groups around the globe to enhance the breadth and depth of this effort.

Motorola claims that the new research facility creates a realistic, hi-fidelity driving experience that can also be scientifically measured and analyzed. It includes a full size, four-door sedan chassis; three-channel front and one-channel rear video, full low and high frequency audio, with realistic feedback for the steering wheel, pedals and other normal driving controls. For the forward view, a video of the road and peripheral views is displayed on three surfaces enabling a 150o view, at a distance from the car that also provides a "natural" view from the driving position. As the driver navigates this virtual world, every action of the driver and vehicle is measured and collected for analysis, including: where the driver is looking, how the drive is navigated and how the driver utilizes in-vehicle devices.

"The data that Motorola is gathering via the new driving simulator, coupled with Motorola's strong heritage of developing in-vehicle communications solutions, will help position us uniquely in the market. Our goal is to develop intelligent products that assist our customers in fulfilling their primary responsibility -- to drive safe and call smart," said Ken Wasko, general manager of companion products for Motorola's Personal Communications Sector.

Motorola, Inc. provides integrated communications and embedded electronic solutions. Motorola Labs is the research arm of Motorola Inc., with a global team of scientists and engineers focused on discovering and developing new materials, technologies, architectures, algorithms and processes for future systems and products. Motorola actively licenses technologies developed in the Labs.