Driving Simulator Research Studies in Tunnel Environment

Road tunnels are major pieces of infrastructure across the road network, and the number of tunnels in Australia is expected to increase in the coming years. An examination of recorded road crashes found that, although they are relatively safe when compared with other parts of the road network, there are still a significant number of crashes that have occurred within tunnels. Therefore, it is important to explore new methods and technologies to improve the safety of road tunnels.

At rCITI, our human factor and simulation experts are working with Austroads to evaluate a number of safety treatments and aesthetic design features in NSW tunnels, particularly their impact on safety, driving performance, and user experience. The studies are enabled by TRACSLab @ UNSW virtual reality driving simulator platform which can provide an accurate and immersive representation of the tunnel environment with an all-encompassing (360 degrees horizontal and vertical) view. Using this set-up, experiment participants are able to experience the feeling of driving while being encompassed by the tunnel environment with new safety treatments and aesthetic design features. Furthermore, rCITI human factor team also develop several subjective questionnaires, which captures user’s perceptions and feelings of the tunnel treatments, to complement driving data collected by the simulator platform.

The studies demonstrate the capability of rCITI’s simulator facilities in providing a safe and cost-effective test-bedding platform to conduct evaluation of transportation technology and policy which otherwise would be too impractical or costly to be tested in real world. The findings from the studies can potentially result in revealing important knowledge regarding the impact of tunnel treatments and design features on safety, driving performance, and user experience, which will be beneficial to inform policy makers and infrastructure operators while also improving safety for users. 

For more information please contact:

Professor Vinayak Dixit
E: v.dixit@unsw.edu.au

Emeritus Professor Michael Regan
E: m.regan@unsw.edu.au

Julius Secadiningrat
E: j.secadiningrat@unsw.edu.au