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IHF Altor uses Blue Box SIMS Motion Simulator for Driver Health Research

Blue Box SIMS recently supplied IHF Altor with a customised turnkey racing motion simulator, based on our Bronze Professional Racing Simulator Package but had one key difference – its use was not for racing of any kind, but research into Driver Health.

We learn the details of what that means here in this article via an interview with IHFs’ Head of Data Analytics Matt Daykin, conducted by our very own Managing Director – Teg Badhan.

However, to in order to understand how the technology works we first need to go over some basics about motion simulators as whole.

Progression, and Realism of Simulators

Racing simulators provide an accurate representation of real world events which can be used for driver training or competing against other human opponents instead physical ones like cars and bikes; they’re typically stationary environments in that they remain in a fixed position on the floor, but also the complex electronics and software track movements hundreds if not thousands of times per second from the vehicle on the simulated track, and relay that information back to the physical simulator to replicate, making them especially realistic. 

Key to this realism has been the following:

  1. Advancement in the power of computing and graphics processing capabilities attributable to Moore’s Law
  2. In the case of online racing the increased bandwidth of internet links available for all
  3. Ever increasing manufacturers which create the Control Hardware for simulators such as Cube Controls for steering wheels, Heusinkveld for pedals/handbrakes/shifters, Simucube for wheelbases and Thrustmaster for all of the above including flight control hardware

All these factors – and more – have combined to bring that realistic experience to the Small and Medium Enterprise’s along with the home enthusiast with some spare finance. 

You only have to look at the progression in the quality of graphics, which depending on your GPU does merge the real and generated imagery quite convincingly.

Case and point, left to right here we have from 1982 Pole Position by Namco, from 1991  Formula One Grand Prix for the Amiga by Microprose then finally right up to date Formula 1 2021 by Codemasters.

That’s just the compute and graphics, here below left you can see video of the motion in action, but its not just racing, with the latest release of Microsoft Flight Simulator in 2020 simulators also provide the same realism for flying too – the right video.

It doesn’t stop there, the ceiling [if you can call it one] for how much you can spend is stratospheric – Formula One teams are known to have custom simulators which cost in excess of £50m!

So, you can see why a firm like IHF Altor were keen to acquire a simulator for their research. 

Now that you have a basic understanding of simulators and their capabilities for the home or business, lets get into the interview.

Why chose Blue Box SIMS for your motion simulator?

The team at Blue Box are actually real racers and because of that they wanted to develop turn key SIMS that anyone can enjoy at home.

They are a team of SIM and racing experts, so if you are looking for a full motion simulator or a static SIM look no further. 

Interview with Matt Daykin for Driver Health Research

The interview took place in late October with Matt Daykin denoted by “A” and Teg Badhan denoted by “Q.” The full transcript is right here for you to read for yourself, “on what are the benefits they are seeing,” and will be able to provide to the career driver.

Q:What was the need, i.e. what is the research you are doing, and the problem you are trying to resolve?
A: We are developing a wearable device that will detect risk of microsleep in tram drivers (and ultimately other drivers) and produce alerts based on the risk factor. As part of our research we require volunteers to wear our device in a safe and fun realistic driving environment to enable us to collect a wide range of data to guide the development of our final product. The fun aspect is especially important as it encourages people to take part in our research.

Click the thumbnails below for more details of the motion simulator that was supplied to IHF Altor.

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Q: Can you provide details about the research that you are doing, so our readers can see first hand how your work will help drivers? 
A: Our work is based on this literature review: Detecting Driver Drowsiness Based on Sensors: A Review. This covers the use of sensors (of all kinds – not just wearable) in detecting driver drowsiness. By building off of this research, we hope to develop the next generation of driver fatigue monitoring devices.

Q: How did the BBS Motion Simulator fulfil the requirement and how was the support we provided to you and continue to?
A: BBS have been really great to work with at every step of the process. They have helped tremendously in setting up our test environment. This is from providing initial thoughts around our project and aims, supplying the motion simulator, guiding construction of it, and supporting us as we use it. BBS were professional and attentive throughout the whole process and their expertise has proven invaluable to the success of this project.

Q: How will having the Motion Simulator make your firm stand out from the competition?
A: Without the sim we would not have any interactive environment to collect driving data in. By using the sim we are able to collect original data that will put us ahead of competitors attempting to develop similar wearable devices.

Q: How will having the Motion Simulator make a difference to your research around driver fatigue?
A: The more realistic the data, the better we will be able to determine driver fatigue. The sim provides a close-to-realistic experience in a safe and affordable controlled environment. The use of the sim and its data could really be saving lives down the line.

Q: Can you describe the brainwave activity headset, and what its doing?
As part of our work, we are using the EMOTIV Epoc X Electroencephalogram headset (EEG) to collect the gold standard on fatigue and sleep resistance. This serves as our ground truth (mapping data) for our wearable device, which collects a wide range of non-brain biometric data. We map it to our EEG data to know how the biometrics relate to fatigue and sleep resistance.

When our wearable is deployed in practice, users will not have an EEG headset at hand, so the quality of the mapping is critical in determining the performance of our device.

Summary

As we enter a new era, one where technology has bridged the gap between what you feel and experience on your race track or sky to how it can be replicated in simulators at home for safety improvements. It makes sense then that this same tech could also help improve other aspects of daily life of career driver who isn’t a racer, or the enthusiast pilot who has never sat in a fighter jet.

If your research or idea falls into this category but you are not sure what’s possible, don’t worry. We’re here at Blue Box SIMS just waiting with open arms to improve upon this research project of yours by providing Race/Flight Simulators as well as other innovative services. Our contact details are at the bottom of this page – get in touch for a friendly chat.

What can IHF do for you?

Want to learn more about the work that IHF is doing? Get in touch at info@ihf.co.uk or call +44 (0) 131 201 2086. They are looking forward to talking with you too.

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