UMTRI has 2 fixed-base driving simulators that share the same room,
cab, and display hardware, but use different computers and software.
The newest simulator, developed by Globalsim, will be the most commonly
used of the two. UMTRI's Macintosh-based legacy simulator was
developed primarily by those in the Human Factors Division. Both simulators
have or will be used for studies of in-vehicle devices (navigation
systems, cell phones), driver workload, the effects of health on driving
(e.g., Alzheimer's disease, driver age), and other topics.
Video Of Simulator
UMTRI's primary driving simulator is the GlobalSim DriveSafety
Research Simulator (http://globalsim.com/drivesafetyresearch/index.htm).
To some, GlobalSim is better known by its former names, KQ Technologies
and Hyperion Technologies. The Globalsim product is found at most
of the top tier universities in the U.S doing driving research, as
well as at GM, Delphi, and Motorola. The user interface for the simulator
runs on a Windows PC, which turn communicates with a host computer
running Linux, and four other Linux computers, 1 per image channel.
To provide reliability, all key simulator components have uninterruptible
The driving simulator has a full size vehicle cab with a touch screen center console, a computer-controlled, projected LCD speedometer/tachometer cluster, operating foot controls, and torque motor to provide realistic force feedback. The in-cab displays are controlled by Macintosh computers running BASIC, software that can also generate directional in-cab sounds. Those sounds are presented by a 10-speaker system from a Nissan Altima, supplemented by a 4-speaker system for road sounds. Other speaker systems are provided for demonstrations and development. To provide realism, the cab has limited vertical vibration, and for use in warning systems, a haptic feedback seat.
Road scenes are projected on 3 forward screens almost 16 feet from the driver (120 degree field of view) and a rear channel 12 feet away (40 degree field of view). Each channel is 1024x768 and updates at 60 Hz. Simulated worlds are created using tiles (as in SimCity). There are about 250 tiles in the library, including scenes from rural, urban, residential, industrial, and expressway settings including intersections with programmable traffic signals. All roads comply with AASHTO and MUTCD standards. Scenes are currently daytime only, though bad weather (fog, rain, snow) can be simulated. Traffic is programmable, either following the general rules of the road or as scripted. The vehicle dynamics can be changed.
Driver and vehicle performance (steering wheel angle, speed, lane position, etc.) are recorded at up to 30 Hz by the main simulator computer, and performance on in-cab tasks is recorded by the Macintoshes. In addition, driver actions (their face, hands, the instrument panel feet and foot controls) and parts of the road scene can be recorded by an 8-camera video system onto a quad split image. Control is achieved using 8x4 and 16x16 video switchers, and a 12x4 audio mixer.