Generation and simulation of surrounding vehicles in a driving simulator

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Driving simulators are used to conduct experiments on driver behavior, road design, and vehicle characteristics, etc. It is important that a driving simulator include a realistic simulation of surrounding vehicles in order to be a valid representation of real driving. This paper describes a model that generates and simulates surrounding traffic for a driving simulator. The model is built on established techniques for time-driven micro-simulation of traffic. The model only considers the closest neighborhood of the driving simulator vehicle. This neighborhood is divided into one inner region and two outer regions. Vehicles in the inner region are simulated according to advanced behavioral models while vehicles in the outer regions are updated according to a less time-consuming mesoscopic model. The sub-models for driving behavior are enhanced versions of the sub-models in the HUTSIM/TPMA model and the VTISim model. The developed simulation model also includes a new sub-model for the behavior during overtakings. The developed model has been tested within the VTI Driving simulator III. A driving simulator experiment has been performed in order to check if the participants observe the behavior of the simulated vehicles as realistic or not. The results were promising but they also indicated that enhancements could be made. The model has also been validated on the number of vehicles that catches up with the driving simulator vehicle and vice versa. The agreement is good for active and passive catch-ups on rural roads and for passive catch-ups on freeways, but less good for active catch-ups on freeways.

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