Driving Simulator Lab

Driving Simulator

The Driving Simulator Laboratory at Clemson University has 880 square feet of floor space supporting research on the psychological aspects of driving. The lab consists of two primary components, a driving simulator and an authoring station for developing simulator scenarios. The simulator is a DriveSafety automotive simulator with six visual channels (5 forward and 1 rear visual channel) with 50° field-of-view on each channel and high resolution (1024 x 768) textured graphics. The simulator uses a Ford Focus with functioning controls (steering wheel, accelerator pedal, brake pedal, automatic transmission, turn signals, etc.), single-axis motion, and functioning instrumentation.

There is also a programmable in-vehicle information system consisting of a Panasonic 7.8? 640X480 color LCD screen with with a 4-line touch screen controller. The simulator software is a Linux-based high-fidelity user-programmable driving simulator with both autonomous and programmable traffic. The simulator has a wide variety of highly-detailed generic and location-specific terrain and roadway elements. The programmable scenarios include traffic signal control, autonomous interactive ambient traffic, and extensive scripted interactive vehicles (including emergency vehicles), bicyclists, pedestrians, etc. Action triggers can be location-based, time-based, or manually activated. The simulator is also capable of simulating fog at wide variety of densities. The simulator can collect several different types of data (e.g. velocity, lane position, lateral and longitudinal acceleration, headway time and distance, collisions, speed limit violations, etc.) at rates from 1 to 60 Hz.

The simulator also incorporates a 3D audio system which includes engine noise, wind noise, tire squeal, scenario vehicles, Doppler effects, vehicle vibration through bass shakers, and user-programmable triggered audio (using .wav files). The authoring station uses the HyperDrive™ Authoring Suite on a independent computer and is used to develop simulator scenarios for use in the various research projects including specific visual environments such as cluttered urban environments, program scripts governing the behavior of multiple other vehicles (lane changers, speeders, etc.), and specific events (e.g., cross-traffic) in response to the participant’s vehicle.

This simulator is being used to conduct basic and applied research in driving. It is used to investigate all three major aspects of human behavior in driving:

  • perception (the input stage; this is primarily visual perception – approximately 90% of of the information that drivers use during the driving task is visual)
  • cognitive processing (the processing stage; this is primarily attentional demands, situation awareness, etc.; this includes issues such as attentional demands of cell phone use, conversations, and other distractors, how drivers develop and maintain awareness of other vehicles’ locations and movement, and also issues of special populations such as the elderly); a major portion of our research will also look at issues with aging drivers
  • judgment and decision making (the output stage; the how and why of judgments and behaviors during driving, including cognitive illusions that lead to poor driving decision).

If you have any questions about our driving simulator, please contact Dr. Fred Switzer.