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Directional control–response compatibility of joystick steered shuttle cars

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Shuttle cars are an unusual class of vehicle operated in underground coal mines, sometimes in close proximity to pedestrians and steering errors may have very serious consequences. A directional control–response incompatibility has previously been described in shuttle cars which are controlled using a steering wheel oriented perpendicular to the direction of travel. Some other shuttle car operators are seated perpendicular to the direction of travel and steer the car via a seat mounted joystick. A virtual simulation was utilised to determine whether the steering arrangement in these vehicles maintains directional control–response compatibility. Twenty-four participants were randomly assigned to either a condition corresponding to this design (consistent direction), or a condition in which the directional steering response was reversed while driving in-bye (visual field compatible). Significantly less accurate steering performance was exhibited by the consistent direction group during the in-bye trials only. Shuttle cars which provide the joystick steering mechanism described here require operators to accommodate alternating compatible and incompatible directional control–response relationships with each change of car direction.

Practitioner Summary: A virtual simulation of an underground coal shuttle car demonstrates that the design incorporates a directional control–response incompatibility when driving the vehicle in one direction. This design increases the probability of operator error, with potential adverse safety and productivity consequences.
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Keywords: directional compatibility; joystick; steering

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre,The University of Queensland, Brisbane,QLD,4072, Australia 2: School of Human Movement Studies,The University of Queensland, Brisbane,QLD,4072, Australia

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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