Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Udoka, Dr. Silvanus J.


Lack of adequate information feedback and work visibility, and fatigue due to repetition have been identified as the major usability gaps in the human-machine interface (HMI) design of modern hydraulic excavators that subject operators to undue mental and physical workload, resulting in poor performance. To address these gaps, this work proposed an innovative interaction strategy, termed “augmented interaction”, for enhancing the usability of the hydraulic excavator. Augmented interaction involves the embodiment of heads-up display and coordinated control schemes into an efficient, effective and safe HMI. Augmented interaction was demonstrated using a framework consisting of three phases: Design, Implementation/Visualization, and Evaluation (D.IV.E). Guided by this framework, two alternative HMI design concepts (Design A: featuring heads-up display and coordinated control; and Design B: featuring heads-up display and joystick controls) in addition to the existing HMI design (Design C: featuring monitor display and joystick controls) were prototyped. A mixed reality seating buck simulator, named the Hydraulic Excavator Augmented Reality Simulator (H.E.A.R.S), was used to implement the designs and simulate a work environment along with a rock excavation task scenario. A usability evaluation was conducted with twenty participants to characterize the impact of the new HMI types using quantitative (task completion time, ; and operating error, ) and qualitative (subjective workload and user preference) metrics. The results indicated that participants had a shorter with Design A. For , there was a lower error probability due to collisions with Design A, and lower error probability due to misses with Design B. The subjective measures showed a lower overall workload and a high preference for Design B. It was concluded that augmented interaction provides a viable solution for enhancing the usability of the HMI of a hydraulic excavator.