New Locomotive Simulator Serves as Human Factors Laboratory
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently installed the Cab Technology Integration Laboratory (CTIL) at the Volpe Center.
The CTIL is a locomotive simulator that serves as a human factors research laboratory. It will allow researchers to evaluate new locomotive automation technologies, instrumentation and add-on equipment prior to installation in the actual locomotive cabs in relation to their effects on operator workload, error rates and productivity.
The locomotive simulator will help researchers to: improve the design of controls and displays to minimize potential errors, increase situational awareness, enhance an operator's awareness of the movements of other trains and hazards that may appear on the right-of-way, and study the impact of impairment on human perception and sensation. It will also expand the transportation community's knowledge of safety policy, operating procedures, and organizational factors that promote safe rail operations.
The CTIL will advance efforts to prevent train accidents caused by human error by helping researchers to create realistic simulations of a number of conditions and scenarios encountered during railroad operations.
The Volpe Center is working to ensure that the CTIL is shared with other researchers and industry. As part of a study on whole-body vibration being conducted by QinetiQ, the simulator is currently in use to study seated body position while operating a locomotive.