Driver training simulator
Vertex develops LMV & HMV driving simulator for driver training, scientific behavioural research and clinical applications, such as testing of driver fitness and measurement of brake reaction time. The very complete driver training curriculum contains all the lessons your trainee needs to become a skilled and safe driver. It contains lessons in vehicle control, including gear changing, lane changing, use of indicator and visual scanning of the environment. This makes it suitable for the initial phases of learning to drive a car. But also complex traffic behaviour is trained, including entering highways, negotiating roundabouts, application of priority rules, driving on motorways and in villages and towns with pedestrians and unexpected events. Training in fog, rain, snow, sun blinding and night driving are also an important part of the curriculum. The emphasis is on learning to drive safely.
The driver training modules focus on two aspects that are of utmost importance in driver training:
Scanning is checked by the virtual instructor continuously, via a head tracker that evaluates whether the driver has checked the mirrors, and looks to the left and right when approaching an intersection, or checks the shoulders when changing lanes. Visual scanning is an important part of safe driving that must be integrated in the driving task and become a second nature of the driver. Beginner drivers often lack the attention resources to scan sufficiently which is one of the most important reasons why they fail their driving test. As drivers become more experienced, and the task requires fewer controlled and conscious attention because of task automation, more attention is allocated to visual scanning of the mirrors and the surroundings which results in safer driving. The driver training curriculum in the driving simulator integrates visual scanning in the driver training from the start which is one of the reasons why this type of training is so effective.
These aspects are where a car driving simulator is better at, compared to the usual method of driver training in a learner car. Feedback is consistent, the virtual instructor in the driving simulator checks continually for driving errors. Also, the quality of instruction and feedback is high for all students, and the reports, generated by the student assessment system are detailed and present a good picture of student progress.
All important aspects of learning to drive a car are covered. In contrast to some other driving simulators, in the Vertex driving simulator, the emphasis is not just on learning vehicle control: also traffic interactions, unexpected hazards, special circumstances (night driving, rain, snow and fog) and safety awareness are an important part of driver training.
Research driving simulator
The research driving simulator software has been used in numerous experiments by universities and research institutes. It enables the researcher to prepare and perform behavioural experiments into car driving and human factors experiments in a minimum amount of time. The type of experiments that have been done range from experiments on the effects of alcohol, drugs and fatigue on driving behaviour to experiments on workload and in-vehicle devices.
This software was especially designed to create and run car driving behaviour and human factors experiments. Behavioural experiments can be created by the researchers themselves or the technical staff and results can be analyzed quickly. Here are a few examples of recent experiments conducted with the research driving simulator software
studies on the effects of drowsiness and fatigue (time on task) on steer reaction time, Effects of distraction on brake reaction time, effects of peer pressure on speed compliance, a gap acceptance study, a study on effects of secondary tasks on perception of roadside information, effects of alcohol on steer- and brake reaction times, a study on fundamental processes of workload and selective attention while driving, etc.
Behavioural experiments can be designed in a number of different fields
Experimental Psychology (studies on attention, vigilance, workload, perception), Social Psychology (measures to influence driving behaviour), Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry (effects on exposure on phobias and anxieties while driving), Human Factors research (interfaces, secondary tasks, workload), Pharmacology (effects of alcohol and drugs on behaviour), studies on training and learning, studies on driver fitness, etc.
Assessment of fitness to drive and clinical applications
Most existing practices to assess the fitness to drive after a CVA, at older age, sleep apnea or with various neurological conditions, often lack reliability and validity. In order to assess fitness to drive in a reliable and valid way, more is needed than the traditional eye tests and tests of urine samples and standard neuro-psychological tests. Simulator tests can be a valuable addition to the set of diagnostic instruments to test fitness to drive. The clinical module consists of a number of standardized fitness to drive tests that vary from measuring the brake reaction time to the measurement of workload in driving situations with varying complexity. Also, a number of simple and short tests assess steering reaction time and break reaction time in controlled conditions while spare information processing capacity is measured. The fitness to drive tests has been designed in such a way that the risk of simulator sickness is as low as possible.
Repetition of driving tasks, such as gear changing, lane changing, use of the indicator, approaching a junction, application of priority rules, negotiating roundabouts etc. This makes sure the student practices all these tasks sufficiently which results in task automation. When essential tasks are performed automatically, without requiring too much attention, the driver can focus and anticipate on unexpected events and spread the attention to a wider view of the surroundings. This is the main factor that makes driving safer. A better skilled driver is more aware of hazards in the surroundings, looks farther ahead, scans the surroundings more frequently and checks the mirrors regularly.