Ergonomics is the science of the interaction between the human and the system he/she operates within. Although it can’t be measured, and in fact is often overlooked by the specification sheets, ergonomics plays a crucial role in all motorsports and can provide a team with a winning edge. The reason a team can gain so much from a good ergonomic system rests on two factors; it improves driver feedback and reduces driver fatigue. In order to implement a good ergonomic setup at Monash Motorsport we use a specially constructed adjustable ergonomic rig.
The rig provides a layout of factors that can be calibrated within the rules of the FSAE competition. These factors include seat back angle, pedal box position, steering wheel position and adjustable chassis heights near the driver’s arms. Once the rig is constructed, drivers are seated and adjustments made until a suitable setup of comfort and visibility is reached. In order not to compromise the car’s dynamic performance, trade-offs between driver comfort, aerodynamics and centre of gravity are considered during the setup process. The final setup not only provides a good and comfortable ergonomic system, but is a key feature for packaging parameters on the car including the fuel tank placement and electrical or pneumatic routing and acts as a building block for the chassis design.
Though the rig is able to give us a near optimal ergonomic setup it has a few downfalls. The rig cannot simulate driver feedback, nor the effects of prolonged use, so these factors must be addressed during individual component design. This development can be observed in the Monash Motorsport M13 carbon seat design, as the seat comfortably supports the driver from moving around, giving them great feedback and in turn allowing a higher level of car control, maximising performance especially for the more tiresome endurance events.
Car ergonomics are crucial and must be optimized within the confines of what is best for the cars dynamic performance and the rules. With a good ergonomic rig these issues can be addressed to allow effective cost and time management, and allows Monash Motorsport drivers to perform better out on track.