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Challenges facing simulator use in transportation research : lessons from a road safety case study
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Anjum NaweedAnjum Naweed, Ganesh BalakrishnanGanesh Balakrishnan, Matthew ThomasMatthew Thomas
Over the last decade, the use of simulation in road and transportation research has become commonplace. Whilst commercial off-the-shelf(COTS) products are frequently used, these devices are often designed primarily for use in training. They can therefore present challenges for use in the research environment, particularly for issues concerned with experimental control, data acquisition, and fidelity. Transport researchers need to interact with simulator manufacturers more and more often to ensure that a fit-for-purpose product is developed to support unique research needs, and too often anecdotal stories associated with problems with interaction, coordination and communication are retold. This paper provides a case study of the design, development and implementation of a road simulator that was procured to investigate how a novel in-vehicle warning technology influenced driving behaviour at rail level crossings. Disparateand conflicting expectations between the research team and simulator developer impacted the fidelity and tractability of the simulation, and unexpected issues arose with data collection, fusion, and equipment calibration. Key lessons for future research practice are drawn from this case study. The paper emphasises the importance of interdisciplinarity for informing the design of simulation-based research and proposes concrete methods to innovate interaction and collaboration in similar research.