Driving Simulator Laboratory

Housed at the Virginia Campus of The George Washington University, the state-of-the-art Driving Simulator Laboratory is used to conduct vital vehicle and driving behavior research. The primary goal of this research is to avoid crashes and collisions on the road. This laboratory allows the Center for Intelligent Systems Research (CISR) to perform driving experiments in a safe and controlled laboratory setting. Technical specifications for the simulator are also available.

Using a vehicle donated by General Motors Corporation, the simulator has been used to conduct research with the primary goal of avoiding crashes and collisions on the road. The lab allows for experiments on the impact of a wide range of factors, including drowsiness and road or traffic distractions. This data is then used to develop warning systems for potential hazards that might lead to crashes. In addition, the simulator could be employed in a number of other studies, such as:

  • Measuring the distraction potential of future in-vehicle intelligent transportation systems,
  • Determining the impact of road design on driver behavior, and
  • Developing cognitive models of human driving behavior.

The driving simulator environment is ideal for this research because it provides an environment that is both safe and replicable. The simulators can safely measure driver reaction to unsafe and even life-threatening situations. Moreover, simulators can be used in carefully controlled experimental studies, in which the experimental variables are isolated from other factors that might influence driver performance. New driving scenarios are easily created and allow the specification of an arbitrary sequence of tasks, events and performance measurement intervals. The simulator also allows the collection of data on rare but important situations in a short time frame.

Our full-featured simulator is able to provide a life-like driving experience. The visual display is a curved screen with 135-degree wide-angle field of view. In addition, auditory feedback is provided through stereo components. The steering wheel produces an authentic feeling of road grip through a generated counter torque. A validated vehicle dynamics program governs the behavior of the vehicles in the simulation.

The Driving Simulator Laboratory performs comprehensive data collection, including eye-tracking data. The data includes the complete vehicle dynamics, as well as the steering angle, throttle position, and brake position. In addition, an eye-tracking system provides accurate measurement of the driverís focal point of attention, pupil size, blink rate, and the time that eyes stay shut during blinks.