Vehicle Concepts & HMI

When it comes to designing mobility solutions concerning efficiency, safety and user experience, conceptual approaches that go beyond advancing the component and system level are becoming increasingly important. At ika, the cross-sectional area Vehicle Concepts & HMI combines the diverse competencies of multiple specialist departments to develop new mobility concepts. Since the demands on research projects and their complexity are continually increasing, the research area offers certified project management with agile methods (SCRUM).

Vehicle Concepts & Transportation Design

Requirements analysis & UX based concept ideation

The systematic requirements analysis and the more profound understanding of user needs are crucial elements in the development of novel, customer-oriented products and solutions. Use cases and user target groups, as well as the corresponding user experience, form the development focus. Concept ideas that capture special brand and character-defining requirements can be developed in workshops incorporating customers. Besides, there are impacts from current and new technologies, domestic and international standards and legislation as well as competitor benchmarking. During the development process, the requirements analysis can be completed in several ways, from a common specifications list to a backlog steeed by an agile process.

Vehicle architecture & package

On the basis of the requirements analysis, technical package solutions can be created that include all essential components as well as the fundamental geometries of the vehicle and the passenger compartment. Additionally, the research area focuses on the ergonomic design of the driver’s workplace and innovative interior ideas. In the course of a project, the vehicle design and the technical solutions at both system and component level are continuously developed in cooperation with the relevant specialist departments.


Designers contribute to the development process from the early stage of ideation (design thinking), sketches and renderings for visualization to Class-A surface design, on to overall demonstrations of the vehicle design. This close interdisciplinary collaboration enables an efficient convergence of Design and Technology. Both in academic education and larger projects, the ika benefits from its established industry contacts and (especially) its intensive cooperation with the renowned Pforzheim University.


A variety of prototyping methods is available to enable evaluation during iterative development and to demonstrate the developed concepts. These methods range from simple low-fidelity prototypes, to representations and simulations in virtual reality (VR), on to fully functional and trade-fair grade mock-ups as well as rolling demonstrator vehicles.

HMI development

Requirements analysis & technology assessment

The systematic requirements analysis and the more profound understanding of user needs are crucial elements in the HMI development. Use cases, target groups, as well as context analysis are used to anticipate users expectations with respect to the user experience as well as to ensure a high level of usability. In addition to the customer requirements, economic and technical conditions, as well as the legal framework, must also be known and taken into account accordingly. Part of the work can be the examination of possible competing products, in form of HMI-benchmarking-studies, or patent analysis.

Development methods & guidelines

In addition to thorough requirement analysis, the successful development of new products also requires efficient and effective development approaches that meet future challenges. Therefore, the research area intensively engages in the further investigation of development methodologies and their validation in practice. This also includes supplementing and revising international standards and guidelines against the background of new technologies such as automated driving or augmented reality display.

Concept development

HMI concepts are typically developed in an iterative user-centered process. For this purpose, the research area offers concept ideation & design support as well as systematic concept development know-how. Especially with respect to the interaction principles the user needs and limitations are crucial for an HMI concept. To ensure a high level of usability and user experience, expert evaluations as well as user studies are typically part of the development process. With respect to user studies, the ika benefits from the in-house research area Traffic Psychology & Acceptance.


A variety of prototyping methods is available to enable evaluation during iterative development and to demonstrate the developed concepts. These methods range from simple low-fidelity prototypes, to representations and simulations in virtual reality (VR), on to fully functional and trade-fair grade demonstrators. For this purpose, ika has know-how in both design and engineering.

Mobility research

Not only global challenges, such as climate change and urbanization, but also new technological developments, such as increasing automation and networking, are changing the mobility of people and goods. In the research area Vehicle Concepts & HMI, the changing mobility needs are analyzed and tailored sustainable mobility solutions are developed. Through the coordination of the Mobility & Transport Engineering profile area and the Future Mobility Center at RWTH Aachen University, we research and develop the mobility of the future in an interdisciplinary and holistic manner. We also endorse cooperations with our partners in the competence network of automated and networked mobility.

As a basis for the development of innovative vehicle and mobility concepts, an analysis of the initial and general conditions, as well as a user-centered and application-specific needs study, is carried out. Based on these results and additional traffic simulations, requirements for vehicles, infrastructure and the mobility system are derived and transferred to a specification.

In the next step, user-centered vehicle and mobility concepts are developed that satisfy the defined requirements. A holistic approach is pursued, which takes into account the existing mobility system and the environmental impact in addition to the vehicle itself. Through in-depth traffic simulations, essential system parameters as well as effects on traffic and ecological effects of the concepts can be estimated. To enable a successful implementation of the ideas, innovative operating strategies and business models are also researched in addition to the technical feasibility and mode of operation. The concept creation can be completed by a technology assessment and evaluation.

In cooperation with other research areas of ika as well as municipalities and transport companies, the implementation of the mobility concepts is promoted and scientifically supported.

Current Projects


Artificial Intelligence in target and requirements management

In the vehicle development process, requirements form the basis for functions, principles of operations and solutions, right up to the manufacturing and testing concepts of the later product. The efficiency …



AI-based assistant for interior development

KAI unites the leading and internationally operating German companies and research institutions in the field of vehicle interiors, ergonomics and artificial intelligence to support vehicle developers in …



Fail-safe and efficient electric drive system for robot taxis

The AnRox project addresses intelligent fail-safe drive systems for future automated vehicles as a basis for safe operation, high user acceptance and economic business models for providers. The aim is …



Empathic human-machine interaction for increasing acceptance of automated driving

A central prerequisite for the successful market launch of partially, highly and fully automated driving functions is, in addition to the technical implementation, acceptance by potential users. Two decisive …



Holistic Approach for Driver Role Integration and Automation Allocation for European Mobility Needs

The European project HADRIAN, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, is dedicated to the definition of a safe and acceptable driver role during automated driving. Especially the repeated transitions …



Institute for Automotive Engineering
RWTH Aachen University
Steinbachstraße 7
52074 Aachen · Germany
+49 241 80 25600

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