Automotive Driving Simulators: Research, Education, and Entertainment 2009-01-0533
Automotive simulators offer an immersive environment to operate vehicle systems in a safe and repeatable manner. A fundamental question exists regarding their effectiveness for an identified task. For instance, driving simulators can play a significant role in evaluating vehicle designs, developing safety regulations, supporting human factors engineering research, administering driver training and education, and offering individual entertainment. Some of the driving simulator technology users include automotive manufacturers and suppliers, research laboratories at universities and government agencies, driver education and training programs, and motorsports and racing entertainment venues. In each case, the simulator capabilities and functionality must encompass the expectations of the driver to permit their perception of realistic scenarios for evaluation. This paper investigates three driving simulators in terms of their hardware and software, as well as their applications. The simulator capabilities reviewed vary from a fixed base to motion platform, desk top interface to in-vehicle cabin, and single to multiple computers to execute the software. The needs of an automotive simulator targeted to driver training and community outreach will be examined to identify the challenges and opportunities with this evolving real-time mechatronics system technology.