Influence of steering wheel stiffness and road width on drivers’ neuromuscular stiffnessLead: Nienke van Driel
2015 (MSc Project, Completed)
Nienke van Driel worked on this MSc thesis project, and graduated cum laude in december 2015. She was supervised by David Abbink, Tricia Gibo and Jeroen Wildenbeest.
MSc Thesis Abstract
New technologies like electric power steering and steer-by-wire have made it possible to freely shape the steering wheel dynamics. As the driver is part of the closed-loop vehicle steering system, his neuromuscular response should be taken into account when shaping steering wheel dynamics. It is known that drivers adapt the dynamics of their arm to different traffic situations (e.g., increased neuromuscular stiffness for narrow roads) and to the steering wheel dynamics itself. Based on that knowledge, this research study investigates whether steering wheel stiffness can be used to assist driving behaviour for different road widths. It is hypothesised that with higher steering wheel stiffness (KSW), drivers would keep the combined dynamics constant by decreasing their neuromuscular stiffness (KNMS). In a critical traffic situation like when a road narrows, high KSW could then allow drivers to relax more, as they would no longer need to increase their own KNMS.