Dr Gustav Markkula

Dr 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 various 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 as Associate Professor, to further expand this research.



  • Deputy Research Group Leader, Human Factors & Safety Group

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 and Experience

  • 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 especially 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="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">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 teach in modules on road safety and human factors both at the Institute for Transport Studies and at the School of Mechanical Engineering.

Research groups and institutes

  • Human Factors and Safety
<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="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>