K. Santiago-Chaparro, M. DeAmico, A. Bill, M. Chitturi, D. Noyce
Driving simulators have been growing in popularity over the years. As these research tools become widespread, an opportunity presents for introducing the technology into the road design process. This research proposes that driving simulators be used for virtual road safety audits (VRSA) which involves exposing real users to a design to determine how the design elements affect driving and consequentially, road safety. Through VRSA, engineers can understand how a design influences the performance of road users through direct measurements and could be especially useful in understanding the behavior of critical populations such as older and younger drivers. VRSA can enable designers to integrate state-of-the-art human performance measures with road design in order to build safer roads. A framework for conducting VRSA is presented in this paper. Despite all the benefits of a VRSA, one deterrent for using VRSA is the requirement of creating scenarios (virtual representations of road designs) in the simulator which is a labor-intensive and time consuming process. The primary focus of this paper is on enabling quicker and easier creation of scenarios in the simulator from road designs. The scenario creation process is presented in detail. Custom software, existing design tools, and widely available datasets are combined to significantly reduce the time required to create scenarios that are not possible by relying on design tools typically distributed by simulator manufacturers.
Keywords: Safety Audit; design; driving simulation; 3D modeling; photographic logs; programming