Human Factors

Innovative telepresence systems have to fit the human body and capabilities. Engineers, industrial designers and psychologists work together to design systems that optimize human well-being and system performance at the same time. In the following, several examples of human factors topics at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics will be described.

Selected Topics

  • Identification of User Requirements
In the initial, analytical phase of a project, the needs of prospective users (e.g. surgeons) with respect to a proposed project or technical concept are analyzed.
Requirement analysis usually starts with the observation and description of current work practices (task analysis, tool analysis, stakeholder analysis, etc.). Additionally, users should be involved as early as possible (e.g. via interviews, workshops, scenarios and use cases) to identify and specify requirements.
Example: A context inquiry (field observations, interviews, etc.) was conducted to determine user requirements (of surgeons, assistants, scrub nurses) in the field of robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery. Based on these requirements DLR's prototype MIRO was evaluated and further developed. Furthermore, a quantitative analysis of clinical team communication was performed to derive an information concept for telesurgery (Weber et al. 2012). 
  • Experimental Evaluation of Technical Systems and Assistance Functions (Microworld Studies, Full Scale Simulations, etc.)
Throughout the concept and development phase of a project, technical systems (e.g. prototypes) or procedures should be tested in user studies. Results should support the further development of the system.
Both qualitative data (user feedback) as well as quantitative data (performance measures, activities) can be used for evaluation.
Example: A force feedback system (HUG) for VR as well as telepresence applications was evaluated in a user study with novices and virtual assembly experts (Weber et al. 2013). 
  • Psychophysical Studies
When designing human-machine-interfaces the perceptual user experience (e.g. perception of haptic feedback) can play a crucial role. Physical stimulus characteristics are carefully and systematically manipulated and observers are asked to report their perception of these stimuli.
Example: A vibrotactile bracelet (VibroTac) was optimized by calibrating the intensities of each vibration segment in a way that haptic stimulus intensity is perceived as being equal at different locations at the human forearm (Weber et al. 2011). 
  • Statistical Analysis of Empirical Data
Quantitative observational or experimental data can be analyzed and interpreted using statistical methods.

 Examples of Human Factors Activities at the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics


Selected Publications


Dr.phil. Bernhard Weber
German Aerospace Center

Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics
, Perception and Cognition
Tel: +49 8153 28-2194

Fax: +49 8153 28-1134

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