Exploring the potentials of virtual reality technology for user evaluation of a shunter locomotive driver cabin

Topcuoğlu, Oğuzhan
User evaluation is an important phase of vehicle design process. To evaluate a design, it needs to be presented to the user by using certain mediums such as physical prototypes, simulations, software analyses, or virtual prototypes. However, physical representation mediums, such as physical prototypes and simulations, have several disadvantages for user evaluation of large scale products like shunter locomotives. Primary disadvantage is that for such large products, physical prototypes and simulation setups require too much money and time. On the other hand, software analyses are suitable for gathering objective data through virtual user models, but not appropriate for obtaining subjective evaluations. As a solution, this thesis aims to explore the potentials of virtual reality (VR) technology as an alternative user evaluation medium by employing it in the design process of a shunter locomotive’s driver cabin. To do this, in this study, (1) literature review is conducted on shunter locomotives, and existing vehicle user evaluation methods and mediums for vehicle design, (2) interviews with professional locomotive operators are carried out to investigate user evaluation criteria for shunter locomotives, (3) a locomotive driver cabin is designed together with the preparation of its VR environment, and (4) through interviews with professional locomotive operators, evaluations of this cabin are performed based on previously identified user evaluation criteria by using the prepared VR environment. As a result of the study, advantages and disadvantages of using VR technology as an evaluation medium are identified. In user evaluations, VR have advantages in providing a realistic immersive experience, whereas for some users, it has disadvantages in terms of discomfort it creates during evaluation and its limitedness in providing realistic experience, thereby misleading some evaluations. Outcomes of the study can provide guidance on how VR technology can be used in user evaluations of vehicle design.
Citation Formats
O. Topcuoğlu, “Exploring the potentials of virtual reality technology for user evaluation of a shunter locomotive driver cabin,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2018.