The SMPLab is a modular laboratory for the fast development of driver assistance and automation systems prototypes (Straight-forward Modular Prototyping Laboratory).

New, creative approaches for an ergonomic support of the driver can be easily realised and tested as a prototype (Rapid Prototyping) in the SMPLab. The set-up of the SMPLab was supported by the German Research Foundation and the Helmholtz Association.

Setup and Equipment

The SMPLab consists of a small, generic driving simulator, free of a conventional cockpit environment, which allows for cutting-edge concepts. Common parts consist of a seat, a projection system to visualise the driving situation and interfaces for the modular upgrading of the system according to its tasks.

The human-machine-interface can be designed acoustically, visually and haptically in the SMPLab. Active input media are available for the haptic feedback: active sidesticks, pedals and a steering wheel interact with the driver e.g. by means of resistance or vibration. Visual information or warnings are integrated into the projection of the vehicle’s surroundings. A CAN-Bus also allows swift integration of any given hardware.

Theatre system

The theatre system is another part of the SMPLab. By use of a sidestick, a member of the design team behind a dividing curtain (“Wizard of Oz” technique) emulates the assistance system supporting the test person in the simulator to test new functions before they are implemented into the software. The development of new systems is done with open or closed dividing curtain to include the test person’s expectations and experiences into the development process. The active input media (e.g. sidesticks) are electronically and mechanically linked, making them move synchronously.


The modular set up of the SMPLab includes equally modular software. SMPL++ (Straightforward Modular Prototyping Library in C++), a combination of various libraries and processes is used as the basis. Well-structured modules make it possible to easily enhance and process driver assistance system prototypes to such an extend, that it is possible to run the simplified simulations on a standard personal computer or laptop.

All incidental data can be visualized and recorded. The recording is loss-free and it is possible to completely restore any memory state of any experimental station. By this means it is possible to work during a replay and analyse the whole interaction between human and technology demonstratively and in detail after the test session.


The emphasis of the SMPLab is on the finding of ideas, discussion and quick implementation of new conceptual prototypes for driver assistance, automation and their testing. Therewith the SMPLab supports the research for ergonomics and design in the subject areas Human Factors and Concepts and Technology for Driver Assistance. The consistency of the software, hardware and concepts enables an easy transfer of ideas developed in the SMPLab to other test facilities of the institute, allowing a more accurate testing for further development.

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