Title page for ETD etd-63197-115233

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Adams, Christi J.
Author's Email Address no available e-mail. Must telephone (540) 710-0359
URN etd-63197-115233
Title An Investigation of Navigation Processes in Human Locomotor Behavior
Degree Master of Science
Department Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dingus, Thomas A.
Prestrude, Albert M.
Beaton, Robert J. Committee Chair
  • navigation
  • visually moderated behavior
  • locomotion
Date of Defense 1997-07-21
Availability unrestricted
For humans, walking is the principle means of locomotion,

or moving from one point to another. While upright locomotion

is a human characteristic, the way humans direct their locomotion

has not been studied extensively. Prior to the late 1940's,

little research or scholarly thought was published regarding

locomotion. In 1950, J. J. Gibson published one of the first

texts on visual perception, which included theories and research

on how humans interpret and react to a world of movement, even as

they move within that world. Published research on the topic has

been sporadic since then, especially when compared to the volume

of work on eye-hand coordination and other eye-brain perception

issues. Very little work has been documented on humans moving in

a "real world" setting, not laboratory settings or under very

specific timing requirements.

This study begins by proposing a heuristic framework of human

navigation, a description of how humans move from point to point,

navigating over and across navigation hazards in the walking path.

The heuristic model provides an engineering perspective for the safe

design of pedestrian areas, allowing sufficient area for visual

recognition of hazards.

Two observational studies were performed, one with four

different navigation hazards humans come in contact with and the

other one with two different hazards that humans pass without

contacting. These two classes of hazards involve different perceptual

principles. The studies examined the effects of ambient lighting

available affected the time required for high attention, fine

navigation when approaching a navigation hazard. Specific comparisons

between types of navigation hazards were not contemplated, since the

perceptual and motor requirements varied considerably among the hazards.

Low ambient light levels, representing twilight and night

conditions, increase the amount of time required for fine navigation.

Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed a statistically significant difference

in the fine navigation time to contact a navigation hazard for stairs

travelling down, a 900 turn in the path, and walking downhill with a

step midway. ANOVA also showed a significant difference in the fine

navigation time to pass a navigation hazard for two different hazards.

Under all conditions, post hoc analysis showed Night lighting levels

were different from Day lighting levels.

Practical applications of this research are in the facilities

planning and safety design fields. The individual's locomotion speed

combined with the fine navigation time required determines the distance

needed for visual recognition of the hazard and preparatory locomotor

changes. With extensive research, formalized guidelines and standards

can be developed for the safe planning, design and redesign of pedestrian

walkways. The human factors engineer could interact knowledgeably with

other professional designers to assure that walking paths are designed

to meet the human's requirements for safe locomotion.

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