Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Interactive simulator for vehicle drivers


Maximize mileage, safety, or operating life? Driving behavior behind the wheel has a big influence on the vehicle. Fraunhofer researchers have developed a driving simulator designed to make the „human factor“ more calculable for vehicle engineers.

Simulations are an important development tool in the automobile and utility vehicle industries – they enable engineers to see into the future. The properties of vehicle components, such as how they respond in an accident, their reliability, or their energy efficiency can be investigated using simulations before the first component is manufactured.

Almost like real life: the vehicle simulator at Fraunhofer ITWM has 18 projectors that throw their images up on a huge dome. The vehicle interior can simulate nearly every driving situation.

© Fraunhofer ITWM

To continue to maintain the prediction power of the results, however, all of the influences that the vehicle is exposed to later on in actual operation must be taken into account – including those of drivers and operators.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern, Germany, have developed an interactive driving simulator using RODOS (robot-based driving and operation simulator) with which realistic interaction between human and vehicle can be analyzed. “Driving behavior is a key factor that is often insufficiently accounted for in computational models,” according to Dr. Klaus Dreßler of ITWM.

No doubt there are algorithms that are supposed to represent the “human factor” in simulations – however, these do not properly reflect the complexity of human behavior. For this reason, researchers at ITWM have shifted to a hybrid design for simulation. Hybrid here means a real person interacts with a simulation environment – a well-known example of this is a flight simulator, in which pilots regularly practice extreme situations.

In the automotive and utility-vehicle sector, only a few manufacturers have had this kind of facility at their disposal, as its development involves a lot of effort and expense.

An enormous industrial robot manipulator simulates braking maneuvers

The simulation facility’s structure at ITWM consists of a real vehicle interior where the test driver can operate the steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes as usual. The vehicle interior is integrated into a 6-axis robotic system that looks like a gigantic gripper arm and can simulate acceleration, braking, or tight curves by leaning and rotating. “We have much greater room to maneuver than with the kinematic systems usually employed today. At the same time, the space requirements are comparatively quite low,” according to project manager Michael Kleer.

For test drivers to behave authentically, they must have the feeling they are actually situated in a moving vehicle. If movements of the simulator do not match the visual impressions, this not only influences driver reactions, it can also lead to symptoms like kinetosis. Simulator sickness is triggered by contradictory sensory perceptions, the same way motion sickness or sea sickness is.

“To prevent these unpleasant side effects, we have developed our motion cueing algorithms that generate the control signals for the robot in close cooperation with researchers in cognition,” explains Dreßler. On the basis of this interdisciplinary knowledge, the motions of the simulator can be matched to visual input so they are perceived as very natural by the test drivers. At the same time, an enormous projection dome provides the external impression of real driving. 18 projectors provide a realistic 300 degree view of the situation for the driver. “You can imagine it as resembling an IMAX theater,” according to Dreßler.

Driving simulations that also take into account the human effects on a vehicle may become more important in future. The increasing number of driver assistance systems will themselves make the human-machine interface in automobiles increasingly important. The demands placed on simulations will thus become increasingly more specific. “That is where we have an additional advantage with our approach: all the algorithms are proprietary in-house developments – so we therefore can match the individual algorithm parameters to project-specific problems,” says Kleer.

The simulation facility at ITWM has been in operation since July 2013 – and two projects in collaboration with the Volvo Construction Equipment company are presently underway. From April 7 to 11 the technology will be shown at the Hannover Messe trade fair (Hall 7, Booth B10).

Dr. Klaus Dreßler | Fraunhofer-Institut

Further reports about: Driving ITWM Interactive braking feeling robot-based driving sickness symptoms

All articles from Trade Fair News >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

Im Focus: Climate Change: Warm water is mixing up life in the Arctic

AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...

Im Focus: Nanocarriers may carry new hope for brain cancer therapy

Berkeley Lab researchers develop nanoparticles that can carry therapeutics across the brain blood barrier

Glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain also known as "octopus tumors" because of the manner in which the cancer cells extend their tendrils into...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Siemens Healthcare introduces the Cios family of mobile C-arms

20.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Plant Defense as a Biotech Tool

25.11.2015 | Life Sciences

“move“ – on course for the mobility of the future

25.11.2015 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Understanding a missing link in how antidepressants work

25.11.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>