In this part the emphasis is on driver training, while on other pages of this website other uses of car simulators are discussed in more detail. Also check the following blogs on the relation between driving simulators and driver training and driver safety and driving simulators.
General aspects of the driver training software:
– The driver training lessons require the trainee to drive a fixed route where the virtual instructor gives route guidance, instructions and verbal feedback when an error is committed.
– Scanning behaviour is monitored via a sensor that measures viewing direction and the virtual instructor uses this information to assess if the trainee has looked at the appropriate position (rear view mirrors, to left/right, over the left/right shoulder) before a manoeuvre was started (for example lane changing, or entering a highway or when approaching an intersection). Scanning is an important part of driving and of the driving simulator training curriculum.
– After each lesson, results are stored in the student assessment system that contains detailed results for all individual lessons, a summary page for printing (with a passed/failed criterion), a strength/weakness analysis. Behaviour is rated on separate driving tasks, for example, use of indicator, speed control, lane position, steering, car following, overtaking,priority rules, lane changing, negotiating roundabouts, gear changing, etc. Each task and each lesson is rated by a grade from 0 to 10.
– 3 channels (left/middle/right) allow a 210 horizontal field of view vision which gives a good overview on intersections. Each channel has a rear view mirror. Also, a top view gives a good overview of road position. Maximum resolution is 1920×1080 (HD) for each channel.
– The car simulator software comes with a configuration software tool to add actuators (controls: steering wheel, pedals, gear shifter, handbrake, buttons and switches), to configurate resolution, choose vehicle type (passenger car, bus, tractor-trailer truck), graphics effects (shadow generation, background haze, gloss mapping of objects during night driving), switch car physics (roll, pitch) on or off, switch feedback of the virtual instructor off (to change a lesson into a test), etc.
– Traffic consists of semi-intelligent autonomous vehicles (cars, small trucks, large trucks, buses) and animated pedestrians and animals. The traffic interactions are highly realistic.
– An internal realistic mathematical model of engine and vehicle dynamics is used, that calculates steering wheel torque that the trainee experiences as force feedback on the steering wheel.
Car simulator lessons are divided into five groups:
Vehicle control: 16 lessons on vehicle control skills such as starting and stopping the engine, driving off and stopping, two different steering techniques, gear changing, lane changing, overtaking and passing, driving in reverse gear, parallel parking and bay parking. The emphasis is on scanning techniques (where to look and when), use of indicator, the order of actions, use of controls, and on extensive practice to ensure that all vehicle control tasks become automated, so the trainee can focus more on the surrounding traffic.
Traffic participation: 21 car simulator lessons on scanning techniques when approaching in intersection and turning left/right/driving straight on, merging, negotiating small and larger roundabouts (first, second and third exit), priority rules when approaching intersections, driving on and crossing dual carriageways, entering and exiting highways, driving on rural roads, speed limits, driving in urban environments, traffic lights, extensive practice with negotiating intersections with traffic and different priority rules.
Special Circumstances: 9 lessons on driving in fog, being blinded by sunlight, night driving, driving in rain, driving on an icy road, driving in snow.
Safety awareness training: 5 lessons on measurement of brake reaction time and braking distance, eco driving, simulation of effects of alcohol on driving, and awareness of effects of distractions such as texting and driving.
Databases: 13 simulations where the driver can drive freely through a set of 13 databases.