Photos: Roark Johnson
At IC Bus, drivers are integrally involved in bus design. IC Bus engineers used real drivers' dimensions when designing their driver’s seat and dashboard. Lenora Hardee, Navistar’s chief technical engineer of human factors and ergonomics, has spearheaded these efforts and explains why they drive better results.
What is the primary motivating factor in the IC Bus design process?
Our motivation is for the driver to spend less time focusing on how to operate the bus and more time attending to the external driving environment and bus passengers.
What are some of the methods you use to understand their needs?
Information about driver sizes and shapes can be obtained by measuring drivers’ physical dimensions. We use surveys and interviews to ask drivers about their preferences for certain features and functions, as well as problems and challenges they face when driving. Designers and engineers can participate in ride-alongs to observe firsthand how drivers interact with their vehicles and passengers.
Can you describe the digital design process and its efficiency?
Evaluating computer models of bus designs early in the design phase saves both time and money. At Navistar, we undertook a large study to measure bus drivers to ensure usability of our buses, visiting six sites across the U.S. and measuring almost 1,500 drivers. We then used this information to create computerized manikins to represent bus drivers. Using these manikins, we were able to evaluate the drivers’ reach to controls, visibility, and the appropriate positioning of the seat, steering wheel and pedals to one another—all on the computer, without using any physical vehicles.
Inside the CE Design
When developing the CE Series, IC Bus engineers installed four cameras in several buses and videotaped drivers during their normal driving routines. These videos helped designers evaluate the many subtasks required of the driver when loading and unloading passengers. Based on the footage, the bus door opener and flasher switches were relocated to facilitate driver tasks. The result? A bus that's designed with productivity and comfort in mind.