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A leading transport research body has developed a ‘unique’ blind spot simulator rig that utilises virtual reality (VR) to improve road and vehicle design and cut accidents.

TRL said the accuracy of its simulator makes the difference between a driver seeing a cyclist or not.

The calibrated rig allows all combinations of seat and steering wheel adjustments available in a real-life vehicle to be accurately replicated for each driver.

The VR experience is then reconfigured for each driver to reflect the effect of their unique physical dimensions and individual seating position. TRL said the resulting VR experience is an accurate replication of the view they would see when driving.

The precision of the system is based on a physical rig developed and calibrated by TRL in collaboration with truck maker Volvo to ensure a highly accurate representation of direct vision from a real-life Volvo vehicle cab.

TRL said its approach stands in contrast to a traditional VR experience where a camera is randomly placed within a scene in the hope that a rough representation of the vision is provided. It said: ‘Unfortunately, from the perspective of direct vision simulation, the difference between a rough and accurate representation may equate to the difference between seeing a cyclist or not.’

Ceki Erginbas, senior researcher at TRL, said: ‘VR technology is increasingly being used throughout the industry to create immersive visual experiences. However, immersion or high-quality computer graphics does not mean accuracy. We wanted to take VR technology one step further than just a visually appealing experience and create a scientific tool for virtual testing.

‘With this calibrated system, we can accurately test new vehicles or road environment designs, without the need to physically build them. We can also accurately recreate traffic accidents, from the view point of different people located at the scene.’

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