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Tug Alpha 1

In my capacity as Product Designer for the Alpha 1 project at Textron GSE, I was instrumental in redefining the aircraft pushback's electrical and human-machine interfaces (HMI). Employing a blend of visual and interaction design skills, complemented by block-based coding, I crafted a forward-thinking and highly functional HMI. This interface not only elevated the visual appeal but also significantly enhanced the usability and user experience, marking a substantial leap forward in design excellence compared to its forerunners. My approach, rooted in thorough user research and iterative design reviews, was key to this transformative success.

Video
Tug ALpha 1 In page Mock Up 1_2x.png

Skip to 2:16 to view the ALPHA 1 In-cabin touchscreen design and features.

Video from Textron GSE

Introduction
Introduction

As the sole Product Designer at Textron GSE, I was at the helm of designing, researching, and conducting user testing for the ALPHA 1 aircraft pushback vehicle, a notable innovation by Tug under Textron GSE. My primary focus was the comprehensive development of the Human Machine Interface (HMI) for this advanced vehicle, which is renowned for its safety, quality-of-life improvements, enhanced comfort, and user-friendly controls. Available in Lithium, Gas, and Diesel powertrains, the ALPHA 1 is a testament to modern ground handling technology.

The ALPHA 1 is designed to efficiently move aircraft on the ground, offering a fuel-saving alternative to using the aircraft's engine. This vehicle operates on its own power source, whether gas, diesel, or electricity, significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

In my role within Textron GSE's New Product Development team, I brought a fresh perspective to the ALPHA 1 project, emphasizing UX/UI Design. I identified a pivotal opportunity to improve operator interactions and led the initiative to develop a digital display for the vehicle, combining my expertise in graphic design with cutting-edge UX/UI design principles. This innovative approach not only elevated the user experience but also marked a key milestone in my career, solidifying my reputation as a leader in UX/UI Design.

My leadership extended to conducting rigorous user research and usability testing, ensuring the HMI design was thoroughly user-centric and optimized for the operator. This commitment to user-centered design was instrumental in enhancing the product's market appeal and overall success.

Alpha 1 Dashboard.PNG

The main screen of the ALPHA 1's HMI. Photo from Textron GSE

Vehicle Diagnostics.PNG

A user monitoring the vehicle diagnostics through the ALPHA 1's HMI. Photo from Textron GSE

Involvement

As the Lead Product Designer, I spearheaded the overhaul of the ALPHA 1 aircraft pushback vehicle, introducing an all-new visual design for the onboard vehicle UI, and significantly improving usability and user experience. My process involved in-depth UX design research and iterative reviews aimed at optimizing the HMI design. Utilizing tools like iQAN Design and Affinity Designer, I applied key visual design principles such as imagery, color, typography, and form, elevating the overall user experience.

In addition to the design aspect, I was instrumental in developing the operational code that read vehicle signals. This coding allowed for the identification and creation of potential warnings. I then further coded these warnings to trigger specific vehicle behaviors, enhancing the vehicle's safety features and operational efficiency.

My initiative in introducing new features was crucial in solving user experience challenges. I designed various graphic elements, including warning and branding decals, bringing creativity and innovation to the vehicle's appearance. My role extended to proposing new ideas and concepts to the product design team, significantly contributing to the ALPHA 1's enhanced aesthetic appeal and functionality.

Involvement
Emergency Stop Activated.PNG

HMI view when ALPHA 1 enters Emergency Stop mode. Photo from Textron GSE

Reverse Camera.PNG

A driver backing up and viewing the double backup camera feature. Photo from Textron GSE

Purpose
Purpose

My goal for the HMI was to create an elegant design that embodies Textron GSE's branding and futuristic aesthetic, while providing important information and warnings to the users of the ALPHA 1. To achieve this, I conducted user interviews and a comparative market analysis of HMIs in terms of functionality, aesthetic, and warning signals. The key findings from this research showed that users expect all signals and information to be interactive, that not all users are familiar with standard touchscreen controls, and that they expect the HMI to display all possible vehicle maintenance errors.

IMG_3919.HEIC
IMG_3918.HEIC

Notes from a user testing session I hosted to gather insights on a current version of the HMI design.

Design Approach
Design Approach

The HMI design was based on both visual and interaction design principles. I used Affinity Designer, an Illustrator software, to create mockups of the UI layout. The 2020 Toyota Supra served as inspiration for the sleek and futuristic HMI design, while incorporating Textron GSE's branding to create the design system for the ALPHA 1's UI. Further enhancements were made to ensure that the vehicle passed the CE (Certified Europe) inspection for sale in European countries.

In terms of interaction design, I focused on touchscreen interaction, with the option to interact through a 4-pin button pad in the case of a heavy-duty (non-touch sensing) screen protector. The HMI coding was accomplished using block-based coding, allowing for the creation of warnings for system failures using information from the vehicle's Engine/Motor Controller (ECU) and sensors. This included advanced warnings and safety features specifically designed for the ALPHA 1.

Hooking up Airplane to tow hitch.PNG

Ramp workers attach the ALPHA 1 to an aircraft. Photo from Textron GSE

Summary

In this portfolio piece, I showcase my leadership in the design of the ALPHA 1 aircraft pushback vehicle's Human Machine Interface (HMI). Drawing inspiration from the 2020 Toyota Supra, I employed Affinity Designer to craft a sleek, futuristic UI, integrating Textron GSE's branding into a cohesive design system.

 

My approach balanced visual appeal with functionality, ensuring compliance with European standards. The interaction design featured a dual-interface system and sophisticated block-based coding for real-time alerts and safety features, utilizing data from the vehicle's Engine/Motor Controller and sensors. This project exemplifies my expertise in merging aesthetics with advanced technology to enhance user experience and operational efficiency.

user Interface
user interface
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