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Human Factors Research Unit

Multi axis simulator

The Human Factors Research Unit laboratories have a unique range of human-rated test facilities for experimental studies of human responses to whole-body vibration, hand-transmitted vibration, and low frequency oscillation.

The effects of vibration
The Human Factors Research Unit (HFRU) at the University has identified that vibration can extensively affect comfort, performance and health. Researchers use human participants to investigate the impact of vibration on these aspects and subsequently develop guidance for exposure and reducing the negative effects. For example, the researchers conduct laboratory measurements of vibration on vibratory tools (pneumatic and electric) to customer specifications, including electric hammer drills and chainsaws.

Links to research for the transport industry
Vibration induced by motor vehicles, trains, boats and aircraft can cause discomfort and motion sickness. The HFRU completes research on behalf of international companies serving the transport industry, to test seats and vehicle compartments for their impact on human comfort levels. Tests may be performed using human subjects or a dummy. The test procedure may be according to established protocols or tailored to the customers’ requirements.

Here in the University’s Institution of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) there is a wide range of work for industry and government in addition to fundamental PhD research on the biodynamic, psychological, and physiological responses to vibration. The HFRU also contributes to standardisation, with many British, European, and International standards on human responses to vibration based on research in the Human Factors Research Unit.

Diagnostic testing
The HFRU offers diagnostic testing for the vascular and neurological components of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) including vibration-induced white finger disease. Tests are conducted by experienced staff and involve the determination of thermotactile perception threshold and the measurement of finger re-warming times. The tests provide a quantitative assessment of the neurological and vascular state of the hands. The results are compared to normal values for diagnosis.

6-axis Motion Simulator
The motion system is designed for studies with humans and consists of a 3x2 meter table controlled by 6 hydraulic actuators.

Horizontal Vibrator
This single-axis human-rated electro-hydraulic vibrator provides horizontal motion for studies with human subjects.

Vertical Vibrator
This single-axis human-rated electro-hydraulic vibrator provides vertical motion for studies with human subjects.

12 m Tilting and Translating Cabin
This test rig is used for research into motion sickness, discomfort and postural instability caused by low-frequency motions.

Turn Table
The motor-driven turntable is capable of reproducing arbitrary continuous or oscillatory yaw motions.

Kistler Gaitway® treadmill is a complete gait analysis system measuring vertical ground reaction forces and center of pressure.

Indenter Rig
The indenter rig is used for measuring the dynamic stiffness of seat cushions and dynamic characteristics of suspension seat components.

Electrodynamic Shakers
The Human Factors Research Unit laboratory has a wide range of electrodynamic vibrators with varying displacements up to 50 mm.

For further information about the laboratory facilities of the Human Factors Research Unit visit our website .

The Human Factors Research Unit has more than 40 years of continuous experience in researching human responses to vibration. The research contributed to many of the current standards for measuring, evaluating, and assessing vibration. Current research continues to advance understanding and address practical problems associated with human exposures to whole-body vibration, hand-transmitted vibration and low frequency motions.


Whole-body Vibration

Laboratory and field studies of:

  • Comfort
  • Performance
  • Health
  • Low magnitude vibration
  • Biodynamic studies
  • Seating
  • Motion sickness

Hand-transmitted Vibration

  • Physiological studies
  • Diagnosis of disorders
  • Epidemiological studies
  • Psychological studies
  • Biodynamic studies

For further information about the research of the Human Factors Research Unit visit our website

Telephone: +44(0)2380 592277

Human Factors Research Unit
Institute of Sound and Vibration Research
University of Southampton
Southampton SO17 1BJ

For more information on how to contact us visit our website

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