Evaluation Of Active Sidesticks As Alternative Controls In Real Traffic

Most vehicles are laterally controlled by means of a steering wheel. The users are trained and are used to them, because it is the standard control element in vehicles today. Historically, the manual turning of a wheel translated the torque required for moving the front wheels. The automotive industry has come up with many new ways improving the human-machine-interface, not so for steering a car yet. However, the progress in the development of Steer-by-Wire systems allows for a change. Many kinds of operation are possible and enable opportunities for novel, more human-centric control elements. Sidesticks strongly benefit from this progress and promise substantial advantages over steering wheels, similar to aviation.

[Photo: Drivesticks in Prototype]

The present paper compares a conventional steering system with steering wheel to a Steer-by-Wire system with Sidesticks. The study investigates the respective levels of acceptance and usability of both systems, as well as the overall driving performance. The results revealed a highly rated usability for the alternative control system. Most importantly, the results did not show any difference in customer acceptance between the two systems. A preference analysis indicates a positive appeal toward the Sidesticks in the category driving pleasure - participants appreciate that much smaller hand movements are needed for proper operation in comparison to a conventional steering wheel. Objective driving performance data showed a marginal advantage for the conventional system. Future studies should focus on varying the parameterization of the Steer-by-Wire system. In conclusion, the high potential of Sidesticks has been proven by a high usability and customer acceptance. The driving performance was almost as good as with the conventional steering wheel, despite the significant difference in experience and training with the two control systems.


Dr. phil. Stefan Ladwig
Manager Research Area
Traffic Psychology & Acceptance
+49 241 80 23888

Dominik Werner M.Sc.
Manager Research Area
Vehicle Dynamics & Acoustics
+49 241 80 29383

Project duration

05/2019 – 10/2019

Project partner

fka GmbH, BCS Automotive Interface Solutions


Institute for Automotive Engineering
RWTH Aachen University
Steinbachstraße 7
52074 Aachen · Germany

+49 241 80 25600

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.