The benefits of driving simulators go far beyond merely increasing safety. They also reduce equipment costs by eliminating the need for actual vehicles in training programs.
Traditional driving simulators require users to stare directly into a series of monitors. But new systems like RealDrive offer portability and a small footprint that allows valuable driver safety training to be brought to any location.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT
The IoT allows devices to connect and communicate with one another seamlessly. AI empowers these machines to learn and make intelligent decisions. Together, they enable businesses to gather extensive real-time data and extract valuable insights for decision-making.
A simulator can replicate any scenario like a tire failure, harsh weather conditions, or tread separation and obtain helpful information on how drivers respond to such unexpected situations. This information can then be used to improve driver training and safety.
Several driving simulation systems are available, ranging from desktop and gaming simulators to high-end human factor and automotive engineering (HFE) driving simulators. These systems are designed to test various aspects of a vehicle and include features like mock-up car cockpits, motion systems, and advanced graphics software. On the low end of the spectrum are entertainment DIL simulators that are more closely associated with video games and amusement parks and typically use less sophisticated graphics.
Immersive Driving Experiences
The driving simulators are reshaping driver training by offering a risk-free environment where drivers can experiment with different driving techniques. While simulators are not 100% realistic compared to reality, they replicate many driving physics and can be used for repeated practice and testing.
This can reduce the accidents new drivers incur and help trainers determine what areas to focus on. It can even reduce the cost of a training program and the time it takes to take a driver from a novice to an expert driver.
For example, suppose a trainee panics when the brakes fail during a scenario in a simulator. In that case, they can quickly pinpoint their mistakes without driving a car full of people, potentially ruining company vehicles, or endangering human lives. This allows them to retrain their instincts and learn how to react in real-world situations.
Compared to traditional simulators that require ample space and high technical resources, modular-design simulators can be installed in a small area with low operational costs. This means driving-focused companies can train more drivers simultaneously with the help of a single instructor.
Drivers can also receive immediate feedback on their performance while in the simulator, helping them learn from their mistakes without risking company property or human lives. With this instant feedback, they can retrain their instincts to react quickly to developing hazards, making them safer on the road.
Another benefit of using a simulator is controlling variables that are difficult or impossible to replicate in field research, such as traffic conditions, vehicle maintenance levels, weather conditions, and where the training occurs. This allows researchers to understand driving habits better and determine if there is a causal or correlational relationship between different factors. This is important for researchers looking to develop more effective safety-critical driver training.
Realistic Traffic Scenarios
In addition to providing drivers with more comprehensive training, simulators minimize maintenance and damage on company vehicles. They also reduce the fuel used, as they run on electricity.
For example, endurance racing drivers use simulators to practice techniques without wasting money on gas or risking the safety of their vehicles and team members. Sim racing also allows drivers to experiment with different vehicle setups and driving styles in a risk-free environment.
Another benefit of simulators is that they can simulate various traffic scenarios and weather conditions. This is especially important for trucking companies and drivers, as the Canadian industry needs more than 20,000 commercial drivers.
Serious Labs is solving this problem with a trucking simulator that provides trainees with an immersive, realistic experience that mimics different road conditions and landscapes. The company’s system also supports multiple languages, eliminating the barrier of entry for new truckers. The simulator also uses AI-based driver models to improve driving functions, making them safer.