Mishel Johns

I work at the intersection of Mechanical Engineering, Mechatronics, Design and UX/Human Factors Research.


I completed my PhD in Mechanical Engineering with Profs. Wendy Ju and Larry Leifer from the Center for Design Research at Stanford. In my thesis, I explored collaboration between human drivers and automated driving systems.

I designed and evaluated systems that allow drivers and automated systems to share control of the vehicle, and to transition control between them. This process included:
  • user research and exploratory studies of drivers in cars
  • human factors research on situational awareness and cognitive loading in drivers
  • building interface hardware, electronics and software
  • developing algorithms for driver behavior and performance measurement
  • developing and executing experiments in a driving simulator

A full list of my patents and publications can be found at my Google Scholar profile:

My research interests include:

Shared Control of Automated Vehicles

Mixing input from a driver and an automated driving system.

Transitions of Control in Automated Vehicles

Timing and quality of takeover of control by a driver.

Driver Performance and Monitoring

Driver Situational Awareness, Driving Performance, Cognitive Load, Physiological Measurements (such as heart rate and eye gaze).

Interface Design

Protoypes to improve human-machine cooperation.


LED Steering wheel

A Steering wheel cover with LEDs, linked to a driving simulator, able to provide realtime information on the state of an automated driving system.

Family Album for Intergenerational Communication

My team was tasked with building a device that connects children and young adults in China with their older relatives who do not use digital technology.

Tether3D, An input device for smartphones

A clip-on device for your smartphone or tablet that reads 3D position input. Arduino + Joystick + retractable cord + encoder + Android app and libraries.

Jackbot, Pokerchip delivery robot competition

Winner of the 2014 "Botcoin" Tournament for the ME210 Mechatronics class.
Built an autonomous robot that collected poker chips on a field following black tape markings, located baskets by sensing IR beacons, and delivered the chips to the baskets.

Design of Interior for Google Street View cars

Worked with the Google Street View team to provide recommendations for a redesigned interior for the data-capturing cars.
Examined VoCs, conducted cost-worth analysis of solution elements, modeled cost of design choices and conducted a Monte Carlo analysis of risks.

Positional Drum Notation, an alternative to sheet music for drummers

An attempt to simplify sheet music for drummers with a logical layout and intuitive icons.

Other Projects

Automated Essay grading using NLP, ML

Feature and model selection for Automated Essay grading using Python and NLTK. More details here

Human Model Balancing Controller using Induced Acceleration Analysis

Design of a controller in OpenSim, to attempt to stabilize a standing human model. More here

Vibration reduction in Ashok Leyland Trucks

Simulation (in MATLAB) of Vibrations in trucks, and design of an LQR-based optimal controller to attenuate them

Biped Gait Simulation

Simulation in MATLAB and in Simulink of a bipedal gait, investigating the walk-run transition at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology.

Low cost slip-sensing Gripper

Design of a gripper that uses an optical mouse to detect slip and adjust the applied force

Technical and Business case proposal on improving customer experience

Second-placed team in the Bank of America Campus Challenge, 2012.