'Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.'

Charles Eames

'To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.'
Milton Glaser

Ergonomic design for automotive appliations

Most people have heard of ergonomics and think it is something to do with seating or with the design of car controls and instruments – and it is… but it is so much more. 

When it comes to car, it involves almost everything that is related to the passengers sitting inside the car: seats. seating position, sitting posture, seat bolstering, under thigh support, lumbar support etc.

Theposition and reach of the Pedals, Dials and Stalks.

Pedals are very important as there are many people who enjoy laid back sitting position while driving. So, even when they push back the seat to enjoy their comfortable sitting position, pedals should be in their reach. if they are not, driving experience will become cumbersome and tiring. 

Similarly, for stalks and dials. it’s not just they should be positioned where one expects them to be, they should be well within the reach of your hand. for example, I expect the volume control dial should be positioned just below the stereo system and its present there as well. But, what if the dashboard is placed too far and its not in my reach or even if its in my reach, dashboard is tilted towards the passenger rather than the driver. in both the cases, it’ll be extremely uncomfortable for me to use the dials.

Review the presentation below to find out more about automotive ergonomic design:

Review the images below to find out information on viewing angels and seating angles:

BMW X5 ergonomic interior dash re-design task:

There are three images of BMW X5 dash arrangements available on different models of the X5 below. 


Your task is to pick one of the designs shown below and then use the data available on this page regarding dashboard design and ergonomics to sketch with annotations your improved design solutions including measurements, angles and any other annotation that would be required to convey the improvements you've made clearly to another engineer. 


You could also create a CAD model in 3D and as an orthographic drawing to support your work.


1) Analyse an origional panel (Note down where the buttons, dials etc are placed and why)


2) Find out the important anthropometric data, reach, view angel etc. 


3) Note down all the important anthropometric data


4) Re-arrange the clusters, dials etc to be more ergonomic (sketching)


5) Annotate your design decisions giving reasons for why you have chosen to place the inbstruments where you have.


6) Do a CAD design (model) and an Orthographic drawing of the re-designed panel.


BMW X5 dash panel designs (existing): 

BMW X5 dimensions (interior): 

Additional links and useful refrences for dash design and car ergonomics: 

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© Julian Kupper