After completing his studies in mechanical engineering at the Graz University of Technology, Helmut List joined AVL, which was then managed by his father, Hans List (Wilhelm Exner Medal 1971). As one of his first tasks, he took over the project management for a blood gas analyzer, which was developed together with him on the basis of a concept by Prof. Karl Harnoncourt. Helmut List was able to contribute several significant improvements, including several patents. The blood gas analyzer formed the core of what later became AVL Medizintechnik, which List headed as managing director from the beginning until its sale to Roche Diagnostics in 2000.
Helmut List was inspired by AVL’s research work in the field of subjective noise and from this he developed the idea of correlating the subjective assessments of a car’s driveability by test drivers with simple, measurable variables on the vehicle or drive system in order to then obtain an objective, i.e. reproducible, standard from a large number of such correlations. However, this benchmark is correctly based solely on genuine subjective evaluations and can thus be flexibly geared to specific target groups of drivers or customers. Furthermore, Helmut List is the initiator and inventor or co-inventor of the AVL Driveability Technology, i.e. the objectification of the driveability criteria of a vehicle. This technology makes it possible to adapt a drive to the vehicle in the laboratory in a much shorter time than before. This methodology creates a fundamental bridge between the world of subjective sensations and evaluations by humans on the one hand and the world of technology with its functionalities on the other. List succeeded, so to speak, in bringing psychology into the development process of the car.
In addition, he is significantly involved in many organizations. For example, List was an Austrian member from 1994 to 1998, the last two years of which he was Chairman of IRDAC (Industrial Research and Development Advisory), the European Commission’s advisory body for industrial research and technology development. Since 2001 he has been a member of EURAB (Euro pean Research Advisory Board), and since 2002 Chairman of SSTAG (Sustainable Surface Transport Advisory Group) in Brussels, the EU’s advisory body for land and sea transport.