A method to evaluate the perceived ease of use of human-machine interface in agricultural tractors equipped with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

Federica Caffaro, Carlo Bisaglia, Maurizio Cutini, Margherita Micheletti Cremasco, Eugenio Cavallo


At the end of the 20th century the adoption of the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) was one of the disruptive technological advances in agricultural tractors. Several changes in the Human Machine Interface (HMI) of the tractor cab have been introduced to accommodate this technology. HMIs are known to raise issues about their ease of use; however, this topic has been under-investigated in the agricultural sector. The present study introduces a method to investigate the perceived ease of use of the HMI of agricultural tractors equipped with technological innovations. The HMI required to manage a CVT tractor was evaluated by sixteen tractor drivers (8 novices and 8 experts). During the first contact with the machine and after having performed two targeted tasks with the tractor, participants filled in a questionnaire about the ease of use of the controls and of the touch-screen display, and evaluated the general perception of ease of use, safety, quality and solidity of the machine. The trial pointed out some significant differences between novices and experts, thus confirming the validity of the proposed method. In particular, novice users showed some difficulties when interacting for the first time with the HMI of the CVT tractor working station, whereas experts did not report similar difficulties. Thus, expertise seems to play a role in determining the quality of the interaction with the HMI. Training interventions should be designed to help novices in increasing their expertise effectively, avoiding effort and errors and improving user’s comfort and system performance.


tractor cab; ergonomics; expert; novice; questionnaire; user trial

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2017154-10726