Project Leaders

Dr. ir. Frank M. Nieuwenhuizen
Phone: +49 7071 601-622
Fax: +49 7071 601-616
Opens window for sending emailfrank.nieuwenhuizen[at]
Prof. Dr. Heinrich H. Bülthoff
Phone: +49 7071 601-601
Fax: +49 7071 601-616


Group members

Five most recent Publications

Symeonidou E-R Person, Olivari M Person, Bülthoff HH Person and Chuang LL Person (March-10-2015): Direct haptic feedback benefits control performance during steering, 57th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP 2015), Hildesheim, Germany.
Chuang LL Person, Nieuwenhuizen FM Person, Walter J Person and Bülthoff HH Person (March-9-2015) Abstract Talk: Learning anticipatory eye-movements for control, 57th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP 2015), Hildesheim, Germany.
Olivari M Person, Nieuwenhuizen F Person, Venrooij J Person, Bülthoff HH Person and Pollini L (February-2015) Methods for Multiloop Identification of Visual and Neuromuscular Pilot Responses IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics Epub ahead.
Olivari M Person, Nieuwenhuizen FM Person, Bülthoff HH Person and Pollini L (January-2015) Identifying Time-Varying Neuromuscular Response: Experimental Evaluation of a RLS-based Algorithm AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference 2015: held at the SciTech Forum 2015, 1-15.
Schuchardt BI , Lehmann P , Nieuwenhuizen F Person and Perfect P : Deliverable D6.5 Final list of desirable features/options for the PAV and supporting systems, 266470,, (January-2015).

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Cybernetics Approach to Perception and Action

The Cybernetics Approach to Perception and Action group combines principles from the field of cybernetics, such as control theory and system identification, with psychophysics to understand human perception and action. Our research aims to understand human behaviour in manual control tasks and to apply this knowledge to investigate novel approaches for human-machine interfaces and augmentation strategies for enhancing the dynamics of civil light helicopters. Such developments can be used to make personal aviation more accessible to pilots with limited flight experience.
Our group uses simulation facilities such as fixed-base simulators with control loading devices, but also the CyberMotion Simulator, a state-of-the-art motion simulator. We develop system identification techniques to model human behaviour in closed-loop control tasks, but also to understand helicopter dynamics. This allows us to design and evaluate multi-sensory human-machine interfaces for non-expert pilots and to achieve the Handling Qualities requirements defined for personal aerial vehicles.

Main research areas

Pursuit and pre-cognitive control strategies in manual control tasks

During manual control tasks, the operator often follows a visible and predictable reference path. Compared with a purely feedback control strategy, performance can be improved by making use of knowledge of this reference. We use system identification techniques to understand and characterise such pursuit and pre-cognitive control strategies. Experimental evaluations have shown that participants indeed employ feedforward control action during pursuit tracking tasks with predictable target signals. In realistic control tasks the pilot also receives motion feedback from the controlled vehicle, which (like feedforward) allows the operator to improve performance as compared to a purely visual feedback strategy. Therefore, we use the CyberMotion Simulator to investigate how these control strategies operate simultaneously and how they interact.

Human-centred design of haptic aid support systems

Haptic support systems aim at helping pilots during a control task by providing force feedback on the control device. We develop novel system identification techniques that allow us to identify human adaptation to a generic haptic aid in terms of the visual response and biomechanical properties of the arm (admittance). Different haptic feedback cues cause distinct changes in the response of the operator and that operators adapt their admittance to fully exploit the haptic feedback. In realistic scenarios, the neuromuscular response can continuously vary depending on many factors, such as environmental factors or operator fatigue. Therefore, we also investigate novel methods for estimating time-varying neuromuscular dynamics online during force-related control tasks.

Haptic guidance for easy-to-use control interfaces

Personal Aerial Vehicles (PAV) have been presented as a potential solution to problems associated with predicted volumes of traffic of the future. Control for such vehicles is likely highly automated, but this can also have undesirable effects, especially during control of safety-critical dynamic processes in unpredictable environments. A solution could consist of users remaining in control of their PAV through a control interface that provides them with continuous feedback. We investigate easy-to-use control interfaces for non-expert pilots, such as the combination of a highway-in-the-sky display with haptic control guidance.

Augmentation strategies for civil light helicopters

In order to achieve the Handling Qualities requirements defined for personal aerial vehicles, we are investigating augmentation strategies for light helicopters. We use system identification techniques to develop a dynamic model of a light civil helicopter through flight tests and evaluate linear and non-linear algorithms for augmenting the identified dynamics such that the vehicle’s Handling Qualities become highly intuitive for an average car driver. In order to ensure that our developments could be used in real vehicles, we also validate our approaches on the CyberMotion Simulator and assess the plausibility of implementing our augmentation algorithms within the control systems of light helicopters.

myCopter project

The research in the CAPA group has been supported by the myCopter project, which was funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme (grant no. 266470). The goal of this project was to investigate enabling technologies for personal aerial transportation systems. Our roles in the project consisted of project coordination and leading a workpackage on developing novel human-machine interface technologies for controlling a personal aerial vehicle.
Last updated: Friday, 13.02.2015