Diagnosis systems for evaluating driver’s attention level have become very important in the last years and have gained an increasing attention from automotive manufacturers; indeed, traffic crashes represent worldwide one of the main public health problems and many accidents are demonstrated to be due to drivers’ hypovilance. In this work a driving simulator and specific test tools were developed to validate the possibility of monitoring the drivers’ attention level and capability.
The driving simulator is equipped with a fixed cockpit and a single front screen. The cockpit reproduces the man-machine interface of a typical medium class car with automatic transmission, i.e. the driver interacts with the simulator by means of the throttle and brake pedals and the steering wheel. The pedals are endowed with passive feedback systems, whereas an electric motor applies an active feedback torque on the steering wheel.
From the software point of view, the simulator is managed by four PCs connected by a LAN. Two of them are dedicated to the simulation of vehicle dynamics and for data logging, while the other two run the graphical scenario software. This includes a motorway area connected to an urban area with an autonomous traffic.
The vehicle model was built with a block architecture in the Matlab/Simulink environment and is run in real-time by using the xPC Target toolbox. A specific block, consisting of an in-house developed 14 d.o.f. model, was set up to represents vehicle dynamics.
The driving simulator is currently employed in experimental campaigns acquiring about 60 signals of driver’s input and vehicle quantities. In order to evaluate the drivers’ attention level, two specific tests were developed, which aim at measuring the drivers’ reaction time and ability in sudden events such as a brake manoeuvre or a sudden lateral skid.
In the paper the driving simulator hardware and software are presented. The tests procedures, which were developed to investigate the driver’s attention, are also discussed with reference to some tests.