For More Information

Michael Manser
Program Manager
CTS/Human Factors Program
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Texas A&M University System
3135 TAMU
College Station, TX 77843-3135
ph. (512) 407-1172

researcher with volunteer using the driving simulator

The TTI Center for Transportation Safety is home to a Realtime Technologies, Inc. (RTI) driving simulator that provides measurements of drivers’ responses to roadway situations, in-vehicle technologies, and driving-related tasks. RTI’s SimCreator® and SimVista® software tools provide a library of different roadway cross-sections and interchanges, as well as a variety of roadway objects, buildings, and ambient traffic. In addition, custom roadway tiles can be programmed to match a specific roadway segment. This allows for in-house development of a wide range of rural and urban roadway scenarios, making it possible to inexpensively test multiple variations and placements of roadway devices or in-vehicle signals and displays. Using the driving simulator, researchers can test a wider variety of roadway geometries and traffic conditions than are typically possible in a test-track study or fiscally practical in a field study.

The driving simulator’s hardware includes a quarter-cab buck system with an adjustable driver’s seat, accelerator and brake pedals, and steering wheel. Three 48-inch LCD displays (screen resolution 1920 x 1080) provide a 153-degree field of view horizontally and nearly 30 degrees vertically. An Altia configurable display allows for rapid development of customized user interfaces that interact with the RTI simulator software, and additional touch-screen displays can be configured to simulate in-vehicle interactive systems.

The simulator can collect a range of driving data, including vehicle speed and acceleration, lane position, proximity to specified objects or roadway elements, and inputs to the steering wheel, brake, and accelerator pedal. Driving data can be collected at a maximum rate of 60 Hz. Other data collection systems can be used in conjunction with the simulator to provide additional information about driver behavior and responses:

  • Eyetracking to record the driver’s glance patterns;
  • Infrared thermal camera and physiological monitors (heart rate, galvanic skin response) to measure stress responses; and
  • Face, hand, and foot cameras to see driver responses that may not be captured by the simulator.

The simulator’s automation module can be programmed to simulate varying levels of vehicle automation, from single functions (lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control) to full automation. The steering wheel torque motor can provide a range of force feedback levels to provide the driver with vibration (haptic) alerts, assisted steering, or automated steering.