A wide variety of tools and resources are used in labs, testing facilities, R&D, and driving courses to create a safer, better driving experience for the general public. Car simulators are an incredibly powerful tool which is why they are used is such a wide variety of different applications from eco-evaluations to alcohol simulations. The surprising part is car simulators are most often used by researchers in a lab environment or R&D facility rather than hands-on consumer training.
One way the car simulator is being used to create a better driving experience is eco-driving. There are two different ways eco-driving is used. The first is in a lab setting. Testers utilize special software modules to track, study, and analyze proactive driving techniques to save gas and reduce vehicle wear and tear. It can track accelerator, brake, and clutch usage as well as RPM’s, speed, and gas consumption. Everyday drivers can use this feature as well to improve their own driving on an individual level.
Another popular use of a car simulator is alcohol simulations. This type of simulation is often found at fairs, college campuses, and driver-training events. The trainee will drive short distance under normal conditions. They will then see the effects of alcohol on their vision as the screen and time shift are added to demonstrate the slowed reaction time and blurred vision associated with alcohol use. In a lab setting, testers actually drink alcohol and test their reactions compared to a control driving session. This offers a safe and practical way to further test the effects of alcohol on safe driving.
Over the past several years, a car simulator has become a mainstay in “edutainment”. It is an easy way for the average person to see what it feels like to drive a high performance vehicle like a stock car or Indy car. This can be a short entertainment experience or play a key role in learning how to drive high performance vehicles in a classroom setting before actually getting behind the wheel.
The most obvious way to use a car simulator is to teach young adults how to drive. While they can be cost-prohibitive in some settings, they are growing in popularity. Instead of driving schools purchasing new cars on a regular basis, they can invest in a research driving simulator and upgrade the underlying software as-needed. A similar approach is currently being used by individuals learning how to drive 18-wheelers and other large trucks and heavy equipment.
As the software continues to become more complex it also becomes more versatile. There is no doubt the car simulator will continue to play a larger role in creating a safer, better driving experience across all levels of society.