Truck Driving Simulator Laboratory

In a project supported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), CISR developed a truck driving simulator for driver behavioral studies. A partnership was established between CISR and the Modeling, Simulation and Driving Simulators (MSIS) research unit of the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research (INRETS). This laboratory has enabled CISR to perform driving experiments in a safe and controlled laboratory setting. Technical specifications for the simulator are available.

Field operational testing for the study of driver behavior requires extensive preparation and precaution measures to limit subjects risk exposure during experiment. Moreover, inherent variability in testing conditions may introduce error in the experiment results. Alternatively, a driving simulator offers the ability to replicate driving situations in a safe and repeatable experimental environment. The control of simulation conditions in a driving simulator allows independent study of driving factors and hence more efficient analysis of specific driving issues.

The Truck Driving Simulator presented unique issues due to the differences in commercial vehicle operation differ and passenger vehicle driving. Features specific to truck driving were identified and particular issues involved in the duplication of a truck environment were considered including:

  • The height of the truck cabin is critical in the limited space of a laboratory since high cabin roofs can intersect projector beams. This concern should guide the selection of the cabin for the new simulator.
  • A hood must be placed in front of the truck cabin to replicate the driving view of most long-nose heavy trucks commonly found on U.S. roads.
  • A dominant view of the road ahead should be displayed to reproduce the high driving position of heavy trucks.
  • A gear box must be integrated with both automatic driving and manual driving modes to simulate the different gear shifting modes found in U.S. trucks.
  • The sound and vibrations transmitted to the vehicle cabin must reproduce the noisy and trembling environment of a real truck cabin.
  • Rear view projection should be available in the simulator cabin to allow drivers to manage the behavior of their trailer as they usually do on the road.

The simulator includes additional hardware to measure and record driverís behavior and level of alertness/sleepiness during the drowsiness studies. Video images provide valuable information for studying driverís behavior. The truck driving simulator is equipped with a digital video monitoring and recording system. Infra red cameras capture images of driverís face and body, hands, feet, and displayed driving scene as viewed from the inside the cabin.

The simulator lab is also equipped with an eye tracking and measuring system. The system measures and records the line of gaze and the pupil diameter of the driver during experiment.