Skip to main content

SIMULATOR OF BEHAVIOURAL ASPECTS FOR SAFER TRANSPORT

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SimuSafe (SIMULATOR OF BEHAVIOURAL ASPECTS FOR SAFER TRANSPORT)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31

SIMUSAFE stands for SIMUlation of behavioural aspects for SAFEr transport. The project will focus research on the most at-risk transportation situations by looking at dangerous road designs as well as the altered driving conditions that frequently impair road users.

In 2018, there were more than 25,000 road fatalities in the EU:
• 21% pedestrians
• 8% cyclists
• 14% motorcyclists and powered two-wheelers
• 46% vehicle occupants
• 11% other

The average age of road crashes is increasing with a trend toward a greater percentage of older adults dying on our roads increasing from 18% in 2010 to 28% in 2017. There also are more than 135,000 serious injuries annually due to road crashes in the European Union ranging from crippling / devastating to minor. It is estimated that associated costs are at least €100 billion a year.

SIMUSAFE aims to improve driving simulator and traffic simulation technology to more effectively and safely assess the risk perception and decision making of the following road user groups: Pedestrians, Bicycle riders, Motorcyclists and other powered two-wheel riders (such as scooters), and motor vehicle drivers.

Currently, driving simulators and traffic simulation models have limited use in safety studies due to the limited realism of road users’ behaviours in models. The SIMUSAFE project will bridge this gap by collecting and integrating multiple sources of road user behaviour data to build more realistic simulation environments. The project is organised into three research cycles.
• First, project partners collect and analyse naturalistic driving, riding, and walking behaviours in uncontrolled environments for a baseline.
• Second, project partners collect and analyse behavioural and physiological responses under more controlled conditions to connect risk taking behaviour and cognition.
The first two data-collection cycles will be refined, correlated, and then used to create more realistic multi-actor simulation models.
• In the third cycle, SIMUSAFE will study the behaviours and responses of road users driving, riding, and walking under high-risk situations and impairment conditions.

SIMUSAFE focuses its research on the most at-risk transportation situations and road user groups by looking at the most dangerous road designs as well as the risky altered driving conditions that frequently impair road users. These altered conditions (ACs) include: THC presence (cannabis use), alcohol usage, emotional state (stress), emotional state (sadness), influence of diabetes, depression, and noise-induced stress.

The SIMUSAFE project goals include:
• Behaviour modelling and data collection looking at risk-taking across different transport modes and the influence of infrastructure and environment;
• Naturalistic and simulated road user interaction via the analysis of driving and riding behaviour to develop more realistic simulator experiences and the safe investigation of networked multimodal road users; and
• Economic and social impact by the early identification of risky road user behaviours and more effective safety interventions.

The project’s expected outcomes will advance driver training programmes, the understanding of the usefulness of vehicle safety devices, and the safer integration of new types of vehicles, i.e. automated vehicles, on the roads.

Further information can be found via the project’s website (SIMUSAFE.eu) or follow SIMUSAFE on Twitter (@SIMUSAFE) for project updates, news, and results.
After 3 years of progress towards the SIMUSAFE objectives, the three research cycles have been fully designed. This design is done in such a way that participants encounter situations in which risk-taking decisions need to be made, covering a variety of different settings in different story lines. Focus lies on roundabouts, left turns, acceleration, and deceleration events as these have been identified as priorities in traffic safety research. Until now, some 120 people have participated in different tests throughout Europe.

A highly innovative simulator system has been developed, connecting different cockpits for each road user type in one single simulation environment. The participants will also encounter simulated road users in this environment, steered by Artificial Intelligence. The system can handle different environments, e.g. an exact copy of the test track in Krakow was made for the Controlled Environment tests. It has been prepared to run specific traffic scenarios that can be repeated, to be able to study different users’ behaviour in these situations.

Sophisticated data collection systems have been developed for the Naturalistic Tests on public roads, and another one for the Controlled Environment tests including biosensors like EEG. Both have been copied, adapted and integrated in the simulator system. The sensors record a large amount of in-vehicle signals (e.g. time-to-collision), video, movements, eye gaze, sweating, etc. All these data are saved securely in a cloud database structure. A dedicated interface was developed for browsing and analysis of the gathered data sets.

An important part of the tests are the interviews with the participants. Pre-test for determining a profile of each person using recognised methods like Schuhfried’s Vienna Tests. Post-test interviews are self-confrontations with the users analysing their own behaviour.

Lastly, the Ethics Committee safeguards the privacy and safety of the participating volunteers.
The SIMUSAFE simulator system is exceptionally flexible, supporting e.g. four types of road users, multiple environments and road signs from various countries, single-user and multi-user predefined scenarios; and event-based simulation. It achieves very high performance ensuring smooth managing of large amounts of traffic and a large high-quality environment. And although in SIMUSAFE a maximum of 6 users are interacting in the same environment, the software has no theoretical limit of users. As more data becomes available from the pilots, more measured behaviour is being introduced into the simulator agents.

Data analyses have shown that gender and age are important factors for behaviour in traffic. For example, higher age relates to a higher responsibility and conscientiousness, lower need for excitement, but also to a lower reaction speed and lower perceptual abilities.

Apart from important insights for the modelling of road user behaviour, data analyses also reveal some interesting results concerning differences in risky behaviour between the types of users. The drivers sample for instance reveals to be the most distracted among the road users types, due to episodes of divided attention between driving and social activities (e.g. talking with the passengers, checking the mobile phone). The opposite scenario was shown for violations. Despite being the most vulnerable road users, bicycle riders and pedestrians revealed to make the highest number of violations, especially in terms of failing to properly explore the visual field before starting a manoeuvre or passing through a risky road area.