Virtual Reality (VR) has a lot of potential for applications across a wide range of industries. Transportation is no exception. VR can be used for transportation planning, research, training purposes, as well as overcoming of driving phobias.
VR can be used to assist in transportation planning and design by simulating all possible scenarios. Thus, with help of VR, it is possible to create unpredicted scenarios, including bad weather conditions, as well as vehicle, airplane or ship behavior, in order to find good solutions. For example, in Singapore, there is currently research conducted to understand what is needed to make cycling a viable mode of transport in the country, with VR as a research tool.
Pedestrian simulators can be used for various objectives. For example, in Ben-Gurion University, there is a study on child pedestrians’ ability to identify traffic hazards. Meanwhile, in University of Alabama Youth Safety Lab, there is a study on teaching children how to safely cross a road. In Vanderbilt University, there is a study on the pedestrian crossing on a roundabout. There are also studies on crossing the road while texting, with and without alerts.
Bicycling simulators can create realistic, immersive virtual environments that allow full-body movement. In the Hank Virtual Environments Lab, research was conducted on how child cyclists crossroads with traffic. The study included one-way and two-way traffic, high-density traffic, interception of gaps on the run, peer influence and ADHD riders.
Meanwhile, in 2017, Filip Schramka, Stefan Arisona, Michael Joos and Alexander Erath presented their research on ‘Development of Virtual Reality Cycling Simulator’ in the Third International Conference on Virtual Reality in Hong Kong.
VR can also be used for training in the transportation industry, such as the training of airplane pilots. Flight simulators are a part of good commercial pilot training. For instance, Asia Pacific Flight Training has a simulator center that operates two simulators, the ALSIM AL200 MCC and the ALSIM AL200 DA42. These simulators are used for both instrument flight training and for the Multi Crew Cooperation Course (MCC). The simulations involve different flight conditions and introduce the cadets to instrument flying before the start of flying training on twin-engine aircraft.
Overcoming Driving Phobias
Lastly, a person with a driving phobia may try to drive a car with the help of a special VR simulation platform to overcome his or her fear. Thus, with VR, it is possible to simulate unpredicted scenarios for the driver to face in order to gain confidence in driving. Since the VR facility is a safe and controlled environment, the scenarios can be stopped or repeated when necessary.