The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has begun to test the use of virtual reality (VR) technology in its research on driver behaviour.
It is working with digital platforms and solutions company Kainos on simulating driver reactions to hazards as part of its efforts to improve safety on the roads.
The project involves the use of a VR platform developed by Kainos for the DVSA, and HTC Vive Pro Eye technology to track eye movements as part of research into driver hazard perception.
It also uses AI technology to collect and analyse data captured during the trials.
The project has three key goals. The first is to see if immersive tools such as those based on VR could reduce the cost of research into driver behaviour.
The second is to explore the extent to which eye tracking data is an indicator of a driver’s future behaviour as hazards develop; and the third is to understand whether the data could be used to improve driver behaviour.
Safe driving commitment
Alex Fiddes, programme delivery executive for digital services and technology at the DVSA, said: “DVSA is committed to making sure new drivers are better prepared for a lifetime of safe driving.
“In collaborating with Kainos’ Applied Innovation team it has been exciting to see how new immersive technology, coupled with data analytics and artificial intelligence, could improve DVSA’s understanding of driver behaviour.
“This powerful, scalable and cost-effective research platform will help inform how we might educate and test drivers in the future, helping improve road safety.”
The partners have developed a prototype of the technology and are now talking to a number of academic institutions interested in relevant research projects.
There has so far been limited interest in VR among government agencies, but a few have begun to use it for research and training purposes. In March the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory revealed details of a project to explore its use in collaboration between different teams on technical projects, and Highways England has used it in health and safety training.
Image from Kainos