Effects of Vehicle Simulation Visual Fidelity on Assessing Driver Performance and Behavior
IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium (IV)
Automotive manufactures are rapidly developing more advanced in-vehicle systems that seek to provide a driver with more active safety and information in real-time, in particular human machine interfaces (HMIs) using mixed or augmented reality (AR) graphical elements. However, it is difficult to properly test novel AR interfaces in the same way as traditional HMIs via on-road testing. Instead, simulation could likely offer a safer and more financially viable alternative for testing AR HMIs, inconsistent simulation quality may confound HMI research depending on the visual fidelity of each simulation environment. We investigated how visual fidelity in a virtual environment impacts the quality of resulting driver behavior, visual attention, and situational awareness when using the system. We designed two large-scale immersive virtual environments; a “low” graphic fidelity driving simulation representing most current research simulation testbeds and a “high” graphic fidelity environment created in Unreal Engine that represents state of the art graphical presentation. We conducted a user study with 24 participants who navigated a route in a virtual urban environment via direction of AR graphical cues while also monitoring the road scene for pedestrian hazards, and recorded their driving performance, gaze patterns, and subjective feedback via situational awareness survey (SART). Our results show drivers change both their driving and visual behavior depending upon the visual fidelity presented in the virtual scene. We further demonstrate the value of using multi-tiered analysis techniques to more finely examine driver performance and visual attention.