Toyota has built a 15-foot-high, 23-foot-wide, 78-ton driving simulator "for effectively analyzing the driving characteristics of average drivers." The simulator allows Toyota to work on specific driving issues in a controlled environment, and to study mental aspects of driving such as decision making, which are among the most important considerations when trying to develop the next wave of gotta-have-it safety features.

The NHTSA has a comparable simulator, and Toyota used some of that technology to create its own. There's a Lexus inside the dome, and its walls are 360-degrees of computer-animated scenery. The dome moves in all directions to realistically recreate the sensations of driving, and allows Toyota to research driving habits and test safety devices without endangering anyone. Toyota is also using the system to work on features that might benefit specific groups of people, like teens and the elderly, or tired drivers. As far as we can tell, however, Toyota's driving sim seems to lack an HDMI or component input for our Xbox 360, which is a shame.

[Source: IHT]



PRESS RELEASE:

Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today that it has developed a world-class driving simulator for effectively analyzing the driving characteristics of average drivers to aid in the development and verification of traffic accident-reducing active safety technology.

The driving simulator, located at TMC's Higashifuji Technical Center in Susono City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, uses video, an acceleration simulator and other technology that allows vehicle researchers and developers to conduct driving tests that would be too dangerous to perform in the real world or that require specific driving conditions. Providing one of the world's most-realistic simulated driving environments, it is designed to offer a driving experience that is as real as possible, so that driving characteristics can be accurately gauged.

Key to this virtual reality is the use of an actual vehicle placed on a platform housed inside a 7.1-meter-diameter dome, the ceiling of which serves as a giant 360-degree concave video screen. As the driver operates the vehicle, a tilt device, vibration apparatus and other devices manipulate the dome-which has a world top-class longitudinal range of movement of 35 meters and lateral range of movement of 20 meters-under precision computer control. The result is a faithful simulation of the actual sensation of driving, including a sense of speed, acceleration and riding comfort through turns and other driving maneuvers. Sound effects make the experience even more real.

Based on the Integrated Safety Management Concept, which lays out the direction of the company's safety technology and vehicle development, TMC plans to put the driving simulator to full use in advancing R&D not only for on-board vehicle safety systems, but also for systems that support safe driving practices and integrate cars with the road infrastructure.

The driving simulator will mainly be used for:

1.Analysis of driving characteristics and development of active safety technology
Conducting an analysis of driving characteristics under such conditions as reduced awareness of one's surroundings (falling asleep at the wheel and drowsiness), inattentiveness to danger (glancing from side to side and not checking that the road is safe), impaired driving (inebriation, fatigue or illness), as well as developing active safety technology for effectively reducing the number of accidents.

2.Verifying the effectiveness of active safety technology
On the basis of the above, evaluating the effectiveness and sustainability of integrating driver-warning and vehicle-control systems for reducing the number of traffic accidents, so as to verify the effects of active safety technology.



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