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THRILL: Human Factors in Amusement

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THRILL: Research

THRILL Research

The THRILL (Tools for Holistic Ride Inspection Learning and Leadership) research program was established to apply human factors engineering principles to model and improve safety in the amusement ride domain.

Human performance is understood in relation to "task" performance. In the THRILL Program, we are interested in several tasks that contribute to amusement safety: ride inspection, ride operation, and riding the ride.

Ride safety inspection is one critical practice that promotes public safety. Enhancing the performance of inspectors, and the development of expertise, is THRILL's original application of human factors to amusement safety. Accident investigation is a common feedback loop to enable the inspection system to learn about possible modes of failure. Human factors principles can enhance the value of investigation and the analysis of data compiled through investigation. Ride accident reports also point toward other human-factors mechanisms that can affect safety.

The human performance involved with riding the ride includes the effect of the rider on the ride and the effect of the ride on the rider: fit, clearance, and reach of the rider in the ride, appropriate voluntary and involuntary actions and non-performance of inappropriate voluntary or involuntary actions, the ability of the human body to withstand the ride movement, and the ability of the ride to withstand the behaviour of the rider. Riders' behaviour, and the physical susceptibility of individual riders, are common contributing factors to rider injury.

Misoperation or ineffective performance of the ride operator using the available ride control interface could cause a malfunction, or prevent the effective interception of the rider's own behaviour or their own susceptibility. Human factors looks for and improves design features that shape rider and operator behaviour and performance.

The THRILL Program is not explicitly examining the ability of the human body to endure the effects of the ride's g-forces or the structural and mechanical robustness of the ride. These involve such professional expertise as neurology and civil and mechanical engineering. As human factors engineers/ergonomists and safety specialists, we are interested, however, in the application of scientific information from these sources in managing ride safety. One of our interests is the Human Factors in Amusement Network that brings together researchers from diverse backgrounds to work on enhancing amusement and themed entertainment through extension of human factors.

This section of the THRILL site (navigation menu on the left) includes some of our past and ongoing work in these areas.


Valued support for THRILL
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant 2002-2006, 2008-2013
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Undergraduate Student Research Award
  • Ryerson University Ontario Work-Study Program
  • Ryerson University, Faculty of Community Services
  • Saferparks
  • Canada Foundation for Innovation and Ontario Innovation Trust (SAMMIE lab)

Industry partners have provided extensive and valued in-kind support including facilitating our access to observations and learning opportunities.

  • Technical Standards and Safety Authority
  • National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials

Individual research students have also received support from scholarships and fellowships including Ryerson University and TSSA.