Simulation of Surrounding Vehicles in Driving Simulators

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Jan Lundgren
Mikael Adlers
Pontus Matstoms
Martin Fellendorf,

Driving simulators and microscopic traffic simulation are important tools for making evaluations of driving and traffic. A driving simulator is de-signed to imitate real driving and is used to conduct experiments on driver behavior. Traffic simulation is commonly used to evaluate the quality of service of different infrastructure designs. This thesis considers a different application of traffic simulation, namely the simulation of surrounding vehicles in driving simulators.

The surrounding traffic is one of several factors that influence a driver's mental load and ability to drive a vehicle. The representation of the surrounding vehicles in a driving simulator plays an important role in the striving to create an illusion of real driving. If the illusion of real driving is not good enough, there is an risk that drivers will behave differently than in real world driving, implying that the results and conclusions reached from simulations may not be transferable to real driving.

This thesis has two main objectives. The first objective is to develop a model for generating and simulating autonomous surrounding vehicles in a driving simulator. The approach used by the model developed is to only simulate the closest area of the driving simulator vehicle. This area is divided into one inner region and two outer regions. Vehicles in the inner region are simulated according to a microscopic model which includes sub-models for driving behavior, while vehicles in the outer regions are updated according to a less time-consuming mesoscopic model.

The second objective is to develop an algorithm for combining autonomous vehicles and controlled events. Driving simulators are often used to study situations that rarely occur in the real traffic system. In order to create the same situations for each subject, the behavior of the surrounding vehicles has traditionally been strictly controlled. This often leads to less realistic surrounding traffic. The algorithm developed makes it possible to use autonomous traffic between the predefined controlled situations, and thereby get both realistic traffc and controlled events. The model and the algorithm developed have been implemented and tested in the VTI driving simulator with promising results.

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