Two experimental car chassis make up the working area of the GM-HMI lab.

Imagining the Future of Transportation

Imagining the Future of Transportation

The General Motors Human-Machine Interaction (GM HMI) Lab is interested in the future of transportation. We imagine what that future will look, sound, and feel like. We figure out how people will interact with their vehicles, and what they will do while being driven around by the virtual chauffeurs of autonomous (self-driving) cars.

Our lab is an interdisciplinary group open to all majors. Currently, students from industrial design, computing, psychology, mechanical engineering, and other engineering fields work together to imagine novel transportation design concepts. We are specifically investigating HMI: Imagining new vehicle experiences, creating and prototyping potential solutions, and testing the efficacy of our designs using road simulation software, heads-up displays, and advanced eye tracking systems.

Our real-world driving simulator — a 2010 Chevy Malibu that's been cut into three sections — allows us to easily and rapidly change controls and parts to test out concepts. Students who join our lab can expect a track involving all majors, progressing through a learning-by-doing methodology, from basic to advanced skills.

A student builds one of the GM-HMI simulators.

Building the Simulator

The design for the driving simulator took six months to complete, using an iterative build/test/refine approach. Professor Wayne Li and graduate industrial design student Chris Bartlett worked on the concept during the summer of 2015.

After scouring the scrap yards for a suitably undamaged buck, they disassembled, sectioned, and reassembled the car against a custom fabricated metal armature. This allows students in the lab to quickly exchange parts in and out of the structure.

The interior also functions as a driving simulator, able to run computer programs such as NADS Mini-Sim (road simulation software) or Project CARS (video racing game). The metal armature, driving workstation, and projection systems were built between October and December of 2015. Student projects began working with the buck in January 2016.

Contact Us

The HMI Lab is proudly sponsored by General Motors and we are appreciative of their ongoing support.

We are located in the Architecture West Building, Room 150, within the School of Industrial Design. The lab is open during studio hours (Monday and Wednesday, 1-5 p.m.) or by appointment.

Interested in working with us on a transportation-related design project? Please contact Lab Director Wayne Li at