The Art of Human-Centric Design Puts the Driver in Control

The Art of Human-Centric Design Puts the Driver in Control

Mazda obsesses over comfort, control and responsiveness – and it all comes down to human-centric design. Closely studying human traits and being inspired by human abilities is how Mazda optimizes the driving experience for the real-world. Simply put, Mazda vehicles are designed by humans for humans.

Mazda’s engineers harness their knowledge of biomechanics, dynamic engineering and driver ergonomics to create a universal sense of oneness, ensuring that every driver experiences a seamless connection with the vehicle. Driving a Mazda feels like the vehicle is simply an extension of your body. That’s because Mazda knows that real power comes from the driver.

Driving position

Tomonori Otsubo, a member of Mazda’s Vehicle Testing & Research Department, went to different Mazda offices around the world asking what was essential to making a better car.

“After listening to many people, I reached a conclusion,” Otsubo said. “Everything boiled down to the driving position.”

Otsubo and his team concluded that the ideal driving position is one in which the body closely mimics its natural state, the position it would form in zero-gravity, as it allows you to move quicker and more accurately. Further, Mazda engineers studied human walking patterns to find that the human spine forms a natural S-shape curve. This lead to designing seats that support this posture, thus allowing the driver to use their natural balance ability to help achieve a comfortable, relaxing driving experience.

This approach also influences the car’s entire layout. Control devices, such as the steering wheel and pedals, are placed in locations that feel natural and engineered to help reduce fatigue. For example, Mazda mounts the accelerator pedal on the floor, instead of hanging it from above, which allows the foot and pedal to move together in a smooth and coordinated motion.

G-Vectoring Control

While studying drivers, Mazda engineers noticed inconsistencies in driving behavior and steering inputs.

“Subconsciously, the driver’s predicting how the car will respond to that first steering input,” said Mazda’s vehicle engineering manager Dave Coleman. “Then they make adjustments when the response isn’t exactly as they expected, which can lead to unnecessary steering corrections and a less than smooth ride.”

Mazda’s-exclusive G-Vectoring Control (GVC) technology, standard on the 2018 Mazda6, uses engine timing to control chassis dynamics, leading to smoother, more accurate steering inputs. GVC reduces the need for steering corrections by using a small reduction of engine torque on the front tires when the steering wheel is being turned and then restores it when it turns back. All of this happens automatically and seamlessly, so the driver feels confident and in control. The net result is less sawing the steering wheel back and forth, whether on a winding mountain road or simply going straight on an uneven highway.

Head-up cockpit

Mazda’s head-up cockpit concept helps put the driver’s safety first, while helping the driver manage strands of information without being distracted from the road. For 2018, the Mazda6’s Active Driving Display is now projected onto the windshield to help easily view important driving information while minimizing eye movements.

“We clearly separated information that is essential to driving from those that are not, to prevent cognitive distraction,” said Taro Oike from the Integrated Control System Development Division.

Downward eye movement has been reduced to a 15-degree angle with the optional head-up display placed within the driver’s field of view, so that they can keep their eyes on the road ahead while checking driving information.

By putting the driver at the forefront, Mazda engineers have created a seamless connection between car and driver that makes it feel like the car is not even there. It’s that effortless control—a refreshing, exhilarating ride—that puts the joy in driving.

You’ll not only see and hear, but truly feel all the benefits of human-centric design in the Mazda6.

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