Considered to be the largest of its kind in the world, Toyota Motor Corp.’s new driving simulator at its Higashifuji Technical Center in Shizouka, Japan, uses an actual vehicle inside a 23-ft (7.0-m) diameter dome, with a 360° concave video screen simulating a realistic driving environment. In addition to testing suspension, braking, and other vehicle systems, it measures driver behavior under a range of circumstances.
Mechanical Simulation Corp.’s CarSim Real Time (RT) software is used to provide all the critical vehicle dynamics simulation for the system.
“An installation of this magnitude can allow auto manufacturers to conduct precise tests of their designs, without the time, expense, and hazards of road testing,” said Terence Rhoades, President, Mechanical Simulation. “Driver-behavior tests can be created in a repeatable, simulated environment. Without the danger of traffic exposure and unpredictable weather and road conditions, Toyota can simulate driver and vehicle responses to a wide range of environments, as well as driver response to safety technology such as Intelligent Traffic Systems.”
The simulator is designed to measure vehicle performance impact from a wide range of driver characteristics, including reduced awareness of one’s surroundings, inattentiveness to danger, and impaired driving. The data are used to evaluate the effectiveness of safety technology such as driver-warning and vehicle-control systems in the vehicle and Intelligent Traffic Systems outside the vehicle.
CarSim uses information derived from driver control inputs (steering angle, throttle, brake) and from the external environment, computes how the vehicle will move, and provides motion instructions to the simulator and scenario generator creating the visual environment.
The 360° concave video screen is positioned more than 14 ft (4.3 m) from the driver and can be manipulated to simulate the sensations of driving, including speed, acceleration, turns, and other maneuvers.
CarSim is Mechanical Simulation’s software package for simulating, viewing, and analyzing the dynamic vehicle behavior of cars, light trucks, and utility vehicles, using driver, ground, and aerodynamic inputs. CarSim RT, being used by Toyota, features live connections to physical hardware, real-time analysis software, and post-processing capabilities.
MTS Systems Corp. supplied the simulator’s motion mechanisms, controls, and software, which provides scalable motion performance and response measurement.
“With this simulator, we will develop the safety technology that helps prevent an accident before it happens,” said Mr. Yonekawa, Senior Staff Engineer, Toyota Motor Corp. “We needed a driving simulator that could analyze one of the greatest factors contributing to traffic accidents: the driving characteristics of the driver. Therefore, we required a first-class motion system that was able to provide a driving experience that was as real as possible so that driving characteristics could be accurately gauged.”
Toyota intends to use the simulator for analysis of the driving characteristics of drivers, research and development of traffic accident-reducing active safety technology, and evaluation and verification of preventive safety technology.