Professor Gustav Markkula

Professor Gustav Markkula


I am an engineer by training, and apply quantitative methods and models to the study of human behaviour and cognition in road traffic. I have spent more than a decade in the automotive industry (Volvo), as a systems engineer, project manager, and technical specialist, working on research & development projects relating to driving safety, driver distraction, human-machine interfaces, and driver behaviour in general. During this time, I also pursued a PhD on the topic of mathematical modelling of driver behaviour, to support virtual testing of automotive safety system. In 2015 I joined the University of Leeds to further expand this research. Since then, I have worked as a principal investigator and co-investigator on projects funded by EPSRC, the Wellcome Trust, and the EU, modelling for example how multisensory integration in driving simulators affect drivers’ vehicle control, how drivers take over control from semi-automated vehicles, the brain mechanisms underlying collision threat detection and steering, and how human pedestrians and drivers interact to resolve space-sharing conflicts. I collaborate with and act as a scientific advisor for a number of companies, in the automotive industry and elsewhere.


Research interests

I am always on the lookout for good prospective PhD students. If you have a project idea that relates to my research, or would like to hear project suggestions from me, don't hesitate to get in touch.

My research is guided by two distinct but related long-term aims: (1) A better understanding of how humans perceive and act in the world, especially through mathematical modelling of human behaviour. (2) Safer road traffic, by improving interactions between humans and technology, not least with respect to vehicle automation.

The applied context of road traffic provides a neat, reasonably well-defined "microcosm" of human cognition and behaviour. In this area, I attempt to do research that is grounded in basic scientific knowledge and models from psychology and neuroscience, but which at the same time has a direct bearing on important applied problems. In return, these applications provide much-needed constraints on the basic models and experiments. I have repeatedly found that building these types of narrow but strong connections between fundamental and applied work can be highly productive, bringing new perspectives and progress on both sides.

Research projects

  • SHAPE-IT (Supporting the Interaction of Humans and Automated Vehicles), Marie SkÅ‚odowska-Curie Innovative Training Grant, 2019-2023. Co-Investigator, advising early stage researchers on computational modelling of human-automation interaction.
  • COMMOTIONS (Computational Models of Traffic Interactions for Testing of Automated Vehicles), EPSRC Early Career Fellowship, 2019-2023. Principal Investigator, developing cognitive models of few-agent traffic interactions, to support virtual testing of self-driving vehicles.
  • VeriCAV (Verification of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles), CCAV/innovateUK-funded project, 2019-2020. Co-investigator, supporting integration of road user behaviour models into the VeriCAV platform for virtual testing of self-driving vehicles.
  • Brain imaging of decision-making in traffic emergencies, Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund, University of Leeds, Discipline-hop fellowship, 2018-2019. Principal Investigator, examining EEG as a complement to behavioural data for driver modelling.
  • L3PILOT, EU H2020 Research and Innovation Action, 2017-2021. Co-Investigator, evaluating human factors of vehicle automation in a large-scale field operational test.
  • interACT (Designing cooperative interaction of automated vehicles with other road users in mixed traffic environments), EU H2020 Research and Innovation Action, 2017-2020. Co-Investigator, modelling and simulating human-AV traffic interactions.
  • TRANSITION (Transport safety in automated vehicles), EPSRC Research Grant, 2017-2020. Co-Investigator, applying driver steering models in virtual testing tools.
  • HumanDRIVE, Innovate UK innovation project, 2017-2019. Role: Co-Investigator, modelling driver behaviour to allow AVs to drive like a (safe) human.
  • Programme for Simulation Innovation (PSi) Theme 3 Driving Simulation, funded by EPSRC/Jaguar Land Rover, 2015-2018, Principal Investigator, improving methods for using and assessing driving simulators as a tool for vehicle development.
  • Quantitive Driver Behaviour Modelling for Active Safety Assessment (QUADRA), funded by VINNOVA, Sweden, 2010-2015. Industrial PhD student.
  • QUADRA pre-study, funded by VINNOVA, Sweden, 2009. Project manager.
  • Methods for design and evaluation of heavy vehicle stability systems, funded by ViP/VINNOVA, Sweden, 2008-2009. Researcher.
  • Open Platform for Nomadic Devices, VINNOVA, Sweden, 2008-2009. Researcher.
  • Adaptive Integrated Driver-vehicle InterfacE (AIDE), EC FP6 Integrated Project, 2005-2008, Researcher (2005-2006) and Coordinator (2007-2008).
  • In-house Volvo projects relating to driver distraction monitoring and driver workload management, 2004-2010. Systems engineer, prototype development.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD Machine and Vehicle Systems, Chalmers University of Technology
  • MSc Engineering Physics / Complex Adaptive Systems, Chalmers University of Technology

Student education

I lead the module MECH5495M Engineering Psychology and Human Factors at the School of Mechanical Engineering.

Research groups and institutes

  • Human Factors and Safety

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>