EFA – Vice President Manuel
Picardi meets and interviews Project Managers from SimuSafe :
The SimuSafe Project is funded by the European Union
ITCL is an Institute of Technology based in Burgos, Spain. With the knowledgeable work of its staff, EFA will be able to participate in the training sessions foreseen at the Simusafe Project. The Project regards the use of simulator during the driving training. The project is covered by European Funds.
Mr. Carlos Alberto Catalina and Mr Marteyn van Gasteren you represent the ITCL, the research centre who manages the project. Please, can you describe what the Simusafe Project is talking about? Who are the Partners involved and what are the goals to achieve?
The goal of SIMUSAFE (SIMUlator of Behavioural Aspects for SAFEr Transport) is to make use of state-of-art Simulation, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Data Science methodologies to retrieve accurate actor and behavioural models in a transit environment, reproduce the same into controllable settings of Traffic Simulators and be able to determine cause, consequences on incidents of interest, to understand the underling behaviour and motivations of the involved actors
The consortium will develop a new group of integrated simulators that will work together with and advanced agent model behaviour for vehicles and pedestrians that interact with real drivers. This will allow the project to study issues that are not possible in other ways. As an example, the project will do some test with voluntaries that are under the influence of drugs which would be impossible without the use of simulator. The new group of simulators will try to dismiss the gap between real driving tests and simulators tests in two phases with different approachesin which we gather and analyze data from real driving compared to simulated driving. We don’t forget the user; we will gather biometric information during the driving and simulator process in the second phase to understand better their motivations. Obviously, the more realistic the simulation is, the more valuable the results are
The project includes car drivers, motor riders, cyclists and pedestrians. We will analyze different types of drivers; elderly people generally speaking drive differently than younger people that recently obtained their drivers’ license. And additionally, we are also studying temporary factors like the lack of sleep, mood, and use of drugs. These models will provide very valuable information on the identification of risky behaviour in traffic and should lead to new preventive actions and tools.
The first phase, which we will start soon, includes naturalistic driving tests, with volunteers driving their own cars. They will be interviewed by traffic psychologists and several measurements are taken from their driving.
There are a total of 16 project partners with complementary roles, covering the spectrum from driving school associations and traffic psychologists over simulation experts and data analysts to neuroscientists and biosensor experts. You can find a list on our website, www.simusafe.eu.
One of the roles of EFA is to evaluate if it will be possible to introduce an EU level in the use of simulator during the training to obtain the driving license. The project implements pedestrians and cyclists as well. How do you think it will be possible to apply this kind of training for different road users?
Reasonably, the use of simulators for training will be for vehicles for which a license is required, that means for cars and motorcycles. In countries like Brazil they are progressively introducing a law which mandates the use of several hours of homologated simulators to get the driving license. They still do practices and exam with real cars, but they have obligatory classes in simulators. This could be extended to Europe for cars, motorcycles or even as a good practices course for bicycles for example.
In the system to be developed, the different simulators will act in the same virtual environment. That means that for the car driver or motor rider, almost any situation with cyclists and pedestrians can be simulated, including very dangerous ones, without the risk of personal injuries. And not only simulated agents as several simulator users can interact at the same time in the same environment. In this case we will not depend on the programmed Artificial Intelligent behaviours instead of the real behaviour of the user sitting in the interconnected contiguous simulator. And since several simulator users can interact with different simulatorsat the same time in the same virtual environment, they are confronted with each others’ actual human behaviour instead of programmed Artificial Intelligence behaviour.
The technology, day by day, invades the human being field in driving behaviour. If technology helps to reduce the number of road accidents, that is a good thing for the whole society. But introducing so much technology, you do not think that we are facing the risk of anaesthetizing the driver skills? Can the use of simulators reduce this phenomenon?
Of course, any means of increasing traffic safety must be considered, and both technology and simulators can contribute to that. On-board technology normally only interferes in risky situations and will not be activated if the driver is using his or her skills to drive safely. Instead of anaesthetizing skills, I’d rather say that technology could improve the driving of less skilled drivers.
Simulators can definitely contribute to driving schools delivering better trained drivers and riders. The possibility of training near-collision, new driver-assistancesystemsor dangerous situations will prepare the students on how to react best. Thus definitely improving the driving and riding skills.
On the other hand sometimes is not easy to test a new technology aid to include in a car and how to do it. For example, several product design studies were done when cruise control, so common nowadays, was introduced in cars. This type of test can be done in a simulator in a safer way, defining how they shouldbe introduced safely in production cars.
Last year an amazing article by Matt Vella in TIME magazine was denouncing the “losing right to drive”. Will the autonomous vehicles make lose our right to use the simulators as well?
The introduction of autonomous vehicles is imminent. As a matter of fact, there is great expectance from the SimuSafe models and simulators being used in their development.
Nevertheless, with the first autonomous vehicles already circulating, the scenario of our roads without any human driver is very far away. Driving for fun on circuits is unlikely to disappear. And speaking of the right to use simulators, driving games will be there for as long as we are. And perhaps fun games with even more realism once the SimuSafe results are integrated!
Thank you very much.