The Many Senses that Matter in Transportation Design

list of senses by nick tyler

Attending the 2019 opening session of “Design of Accessible Transport Systems” reminded me of the need for designers of all sorts to consider a wider array of senses than the five that normally come to mind. This postgraduate course/module is taught by my primary research supervisor, Professor Nick Tyler.

According to Nick, human senses can be psychological, as we normally picture, but they can also be environmental and interpretational.

Psychological

Psychological senses include the main five that we all recognize: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. But the list doesn’t end there. Far from it!

Other psychological aspects involve balance, proprioception (defined on Wikipedia as “the sense of the relative position of one’s own parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement), pain, vestibular awareness (having to do with vertigo), embodiment (essentially, seeing a person or thing as a clearly defined whole with clear boundaries), and temperature.

Environmental

Nick identified the following environment-related senses: rhythm, harmony, color, space, direction, pitch, time, and comfort. As an architect, I’m quite familiar with considering all these in the process of design.

Interpretational

Interpretational senses are even more subtle. They include the senses of self, ownership, justice, history, culture, politics, care, emotion, fear, wellbeing, safety, emotion, pride, responsibility, and symbolism. And, all clearly important to understand when designing anything for people.

During the class, meeting, Nick’s students practiced using tools to simulate various impairments, or as Nick calls them, different capacities.

Introducing PEARL

I had attended the class meeting to get another view of Nick’s research center at Tufnell Park, which is named PAMELA. This center will soon have a sister, named PEARL, as described by Nick in an email he distributed to his faculty last November:

November 19, 2018

Dear All,

Last Friday UCL Council approved the investment of £37.8M [37.8 million GBP]  in our PEARL facility (Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory), which will be a successor to PAMELA. This investment supplements a £9M [9 million GBP] contribution from BEIS, so the department will have the benefit of a new £47m [47 million GBP] research facility to add to its facilities in Gower Street and Here East. PEARL is the UCL component of the UKCRIC multi-university laboratory complex for research on Infrastructure and Cities.

PEARL will be a 9,500 m2 [square meter] facility, of which 4,000 m2 will be a laboratory space for building 1:1 scale environments and testing them with people — this means that we could have a 100m-long street, or a small town square, or a railway station with 4-carriage trains, station concourses etc. instrumented so that we can study in detail how people interact with such environments. The facility is available for use for transdisciplinary research and teaching where these require the use of big, instrumented, highly configurable space, and it will have a large and significant engagement with the local community.

PEARL will be located in Dagenham.

Huge thanks are due to Nigel Titchener-Hooker, who led the negotiations through UCL to secure this investment.

It is a massive vote of confidence in the department!

Yours,

Nick

Nick Tyler CBE FREng FICE FCIHT FRSA
Chadwick Professor of Civil Engineering
Director, UCL Centre for Transport Studies
UCL, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK
+44 20 7679 1562
@nicktyler4 @ucl-squared

Nick’s research is really making a difference–globally as well as right here in London– and I’m honored to have a first-hand view on some aspects of his work.

The two photos at the end of the gallery below explain more about PAMELA, and how to get involved as a participant in Nick’s research studies for people who live in or near London.

The World… on Water!

The Fulbright Ireland crew had a lovely day on the MS The World, as the outgoing students and scholars for 2013-14 were officially announced.  There are 37 Irish Fulbright awardees in all this year, and they join the ranks of 1600 other Irish Fulbrights who have gone to the US since 1947.

Events were held on a very impressive cruise ship where people actually live… it operates like a very high-end condo. The ship is called “The World” and we were lucky enough to get tours from the staff.

We were guests of  ship residents Jack and Monica Pinkowski, who are Florida residents.

Jack was a Fulbright to Dublin City Council in 2008-9, and the couple continues to support the Fulbright program today.

12:00 – 12:45 pm

Guests Arrive and Ship Tours

Gangway

12:30/12:45 – 1:30 pm

Light lunch / drinks with traditional Irish musicians performing

Tea Room/ Garden

1:30 – 2:30 pm

Remarks / Presentation of Awardees

The Colosseo

§  World Representative and Fulbright Alumna, Dr. Jack Pinkowski

§  Fulbright Commission Chair, Mr. Patrick McDermott

§  Chargé d’ Affaires, U.S. Embassy, Mr. John Hennessy-Niland

§  Fulbright Commission Executive Director, Ms. Colleen Dube

§  Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn

2:30 pm

End of Event

RoboSlam Ratings

The organizer of last week’s events at DIT wrote to those of us who conducted the RoboSlam robot hacking workshop. She said:

In fact, in the survey I conducted at the end, 61.8% of 34 participants said it was ‘excellent’ and 35.3% said it was ‘very good’. One student said it was ‘good’ (2.9%) and that was the lowest score Roboslam got. It even beat Wednesday’s visit to the Aviva Stadium which, in the week of the Heineken Cup, is saying something! A whopping 67.6% of participants said it was their favourite on-campus activity and, interestingly,  11 students now say that electronic engineering would be their preferred choice of engineering discipline, up from 8 students at the start of the week…

To read more, please see the RoboSlam blog on this topic.

Custom Fit

The students worked diligently to get their robot bodies form-fitted over their circuit boards and chassis.

Please see our RoboSlam blog for more photos of this phase of robot-construction.

Robot Design and Rapid Prototyping

Product design, rapid prototyping, statistical analysis, and body construction: our second day of RoboSlam covered all sorts of topics!

We got an overview of product design from DIT lecturers Ger Reilly and Kevin Delaney and designed bodies for our robots. Then, we divided into groups so that we’d all get to tour the rapid prototyping lab, learn about statistical analysis, and start crafting our robot bodies from rigid foam using the hot wire cutter.

Please visit our RoboSlam blog to see the range of things we accomplished this day….

Robot Programming and Testing

Please visit the RoboSlam blog to see the newest photos of our recent robot programming and testing activities. Here’s one of the featured photos form that post:

Engineering lecturers Frank Duignan and Mick Core explaining concepts to two Transition Year students at our May RoboSlam.

Engineering lecturers Frank Duignan and Mick Core explaining concepts to two Transition Year students at our May RoboSlam.

RoboSlam–Extended Version

Yesterday the students who built robots with the crew coordinated by Drs. Ted Burke and Damon Berry headed over to DIT’s Bolton Street location to learn about mechanical, industrial, and product design. Thanks to Kevin Delaney, Ger Reilly, Susan O’Shaughnessy and crew for a fascinating day! I’ll be posting lots more photos of RoboSlam in the days to come.  It’s been such fun!

A Chilly Antique Car Show in Smithfield

A dozen and a half owners of antique cars braved the frigid temperatures Sunday to show their treasures on Smithfield’s cobblestoned plaza. Among the collection were a couple cute old Minis and a dozen or so old Triumphs.

The photos below show my favorites from the show.  I love viewing early model autos!

Seeing them on Smithfield Plaza, an important industrial hub of 19th century Dublin, is all the more fun.

Working on the Railroad with Kitty and Patty

Irish Rail is definitely something to write home about!  Clean, comfortable, reliable, and on time. It accesses all the major cities in Ireland.

If you’re coming to Ireland (for this year’s Gathering perhaps) all you need to do is go online to irishrail.ie to book your train tickets. You’ll pick your tickets up when you get to the station by entering your reservation number into a kiosk. The find the train platform and take your seat. There are food, restrooms, and free (but intermittent) wi-fi access on board.

Simple as pie!

Robot Guts!

The answer is YES!  You just need teammates and awesome teachers to help you find your way.  They’re building simple robots at DIT with sophomore engineering students… and sometimes even with school kids.