A new simulator is being designed to help Swedish authorities research biking.
The Swedish Road and Transportation Institute (VTI) are building a one of a kind simulator. The project is going to make use of existing infrastructure for vehicle simulations at VTI’s testing facilities in Gothenburg. Essentially, researchers will remove the driver’s cabin from a car or truck simulator, and replace it with a bike. The bike will have a full range of motion, including leaning and lateral translation in order to better replicate the kind of movements a person would do on the road.
When researchers study the motion or behavior of bicyclists in a controlled environment, such as in a simulator, they generally want the the experience to be as close to reality as possible. This means including as many aspects of the real thing as they can. Previous attempts at simulating bicycles have revolved around stationary bikes and virtual reality goggles, and while this might seem like a good approach, it also removes a very basic feature of actual biking: The need for balance. The VTI simulator is designed with this in mind. “Bicyclists in the simulator will need to balance just like you would on a real bike,” says Fredrik Bruzelius, project leader and researcher at VTI.
The simulator will be used for many different purposes. It can be used for example, to study proposed road designs and how they affect bikers, or how they react to various traffic situations. By simulating dangerous crossings or new road mapping in the sim, the researchers can repeat an experiment many times with identical initial conditions, and you never have to worry about exposing your test subjects to danger or accidents.
VTI is a Swedish state-run research institute focusing on infrastructure, traffic, and transportation. They have around 200 researchers, at labs throughout the country. The Gothenburg focuses on developing vehicle technology and vehicle safety. In addition to VTI, the City of Gothenburg, Cycleurope and the nearby Chalmers Institute of Technology are all taking part in the project. The project will focus on biking infrastructure and biking behavior and is expected to be finished in June of 2018.