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Advanced driving simulator to evaluate
sound design strategies for ITS

 

Additional sound capabilities in visually advanced simulators may offer researchers and practitioners better resources to evaluate in-vehicle auditory signals and advanced auditory displays. In the first part of the present report, the implementation of a new audio system in the Scania truck cabin for the driving simulators II and III (VTI, March 2011) at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) is described. The new system is designed to make it easier to use the advanced driving simulators to study effects of in-vehicle auditory signals on drivers and traffic safety. It includes both new software and new hardware.


The new audio software is based on the Open Audio Library (OpenAL) implementation for the Macintosh Operating System OS X. It communicates with the existing simulator software using the Open Sound Control (OSC) standard. The remaining program code is open, which offers the possibility of adapting the audio system to future demands and specific needs of partners within the competence centre ViP (Virtual Prototyping and Assessment by
Simulation). The new audio software contains a simple visual interface that can be used to set up, test and calibrate auditory cues inside the cabin at an early stage of a project. In terms of hardware, six new loudspeakers have been installed in the truck cabin. This speaker setup can be used to simulate sound sources in various spatial positions around the driver. Special consideration was taken regarding the placement of the loudspeakers inside the cabin in order not to make them disturbing to the drivers. Additionally, even though the audio system was especially designed for the simulation of ADASs, the functionality was implemented to prepare the system for presentation of other sound sources in the driver environment.
Another aim of the present project was to investigate the potential of urgent alarms to raise annoyance and negatively affect drivers' subsequent responses to unrelated, critical events on the road.

 

While performing a simulated driving task, truck drivers received two types of warnings that were designed to differ significantly in perceived urgency. Several times in the trial an unexpected event occurred just seconds after drivers were presented with an unrelated warning, and the drivers had to brake immediately to avoid a collision. The results indicate that acoustic characteristics and semantic meaning may impact the perceived annoyance of invehicle warnings. Furthermore, the participants who received a high-urgency warning braked significantly harder and tended to brake later than the drivers who received a low-urgency warning.

 

The simulator study was also used to validate the reliability of the new audio system. In summary, the new audio system worked reliably during all 24 trials. However, more extended validations should be carried out in the future to investigate the exact accuracy of the system in representing signals in specific spatial directions.

 

Project manager: Hanna Johansson, Scania, +46 (0)70 459 91 31

Contact: Johan Fagerlönn, PhD student, Interactive Institute, +46 (0)70 368 98 10

Project partners: Scania and VTI

 

The project was carried out in collaboration with Interactive Institute and Luleå university of Technolgy. The PhD student was co-funded by Vinnova.

 


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