An algorithm for combining autonomous vehicles and controlled events in driving simulator experiments

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Stéphane Espié
Selina Mårdh
Jan Lundgren

Autonomous vehicles can be used to create realistic simulations of surrounding vehicles in driving simulators. However, the use of autonomous vehicles makes it difficult to ensure reproducibility between subjects. In this paper, an effort is made to solve the problem by combining autonomous vehicles and controlled events, denoted plays. The aim is to achieve the same initial play conditions for each subject, since the traffic situation around the subject will be dependant upon each subject's actions while driving in the autonomous traffic. This paper presents an algorithm that achieves the transition from autonomous traffic to a predefined start condition for a play. The algorithm has been tested in the VTI driving simulator III with promising results. In most of the cases the algorithm could reconstruct the specified start condition and conduct the transition from autonomous to controlled mode in a non-conspicuous way. Some problems were observed regarding moving unwanted vehicles away from the closest area around the simulator vehicle, and this part of the algorithm has to be enhanced. The experiment also showed that the controlled every-day life traffic normally used in the VTI driving simulator makes subjects drive faster than in autonomous traffic.

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