Passenger Vehicle Driver's Lower Limbs Ergonomics through the Development of Biomechanical Models 2015-36-0205
Vehicle ergonomics, more specifically driver ergonomics, has been the subject of interest in the automotive industry as a way to provide customers vehicles that have more than modern project, efficiency and competitive price. The driver ergonomics is related to the way the driver interacts with the vehicle interior, particularly, with the seat, hand and foot controls, considering aspects such as ease of access, space, proper upper and lower limb motion and drivers comfort and fatigue. Regarding the lower limbs, the driver’s comfort can be evaluated in terms of joint moments and muscle forces, which are influenced by the hip, knee and ankle joint angles, which in turn depend on the distances between the seat and pedal. Variations in seat to pedal horizontal or vertical distances will result in different angular positions and, consequently, different joint moments and muscle forces, which are associated to greater or lower muscular activations and greater or lower driver’s fatigue. The present work aims at allowing the analysis of the driver's lower limbs ergonomics through the development of a biomechanical model which, by the use of real driver and vehicle parameters, results in seat adjustments related to more or less comfort. The study shows that the proposed model and framework can be successfully used to investigate driver’s ergonomics. The results show some agreement with experimental data but the predicted most comfortable regions are characterized by more flexed joint configurations when compared to literature data. This indicates the necessity of future model improvements.