– We at The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute are very proud to have introduced a driving simulator that is unique in many ways. The new driving simulator will play an important role in research about roads and transportation, comments Urban Karlström, Director General at The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI).
Driving Simulator III is built around a real vehicle chassis and a sophisticated motion system, which enables fast acceleration. The surroundings are simulated and displayed to the driver via three main screens and three rear view mirrors. Under the chassis is a vibration table to simulate contact with the road surface, providing a more realistic driving experience. The driving dynamics are also very advanced and on the forefront of what can be done with current technology. Together this creates a unique simulator that provides an extremely realistic experience. Because of the modular construction, the various subsystems can be adapted to suit the needs of each individual research project. The driving simulator can be fully adapted for private cars and trucks by means of a chassis interchange system. In the future, it will also be possible to use it to simulate rail traffic.
The driving simulator has a broad range of applications, ranging from studies concerning driver behaviour, the human-machine interface and the effects of tiredness and drugs to projects concerning environmental issues, road and landscape design, tunnel design, the reactions of the body, drivers with reduced functionality and new subsystems in vehicles. The effects of noise and vibrations on driver performance are examples of other areas that may be studied using the simulator. One exciting area is how new technology influences driving, for example the use of mobile telephones. VTI has conducted this type of test in the simulator, which would have been impossible in a real traffic environment for safety reasons. VTI’s simulator has also been used for the planning of the Northern and Southern Link Roads in Stockholm, for example, in order to determine the positioning of road signs and for reasons of aesthetic design.
In the driving simulator it is possible to recreate any traffic situation as many times as you want, in an efficient, risk-free and cost-effective manner. One scenario may involve driving through the countryside and suddenly being confronted by a large animal leaping out in front of the car. Another scenario could be in a city environment, with dense traffic, where cars unexpectedly cross the roadway. A certain scenario can also be recreated under different preconditions, to study, for example, the differences between driving with and without time pressure.
The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) is a national research institute organised under the Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications as a commissioned research authority. VTI is the Swedish centre in an international network for advanced applied research and development in the transport sector. VTI disseminates its research results via reports and bulletins and via the web site www.vti.se, where most of the information is available also in English.