WO2018141023A1 - A vehicle driving simulator for training or use of automotive car drivers or mobile devices controlled or occupied by humans - Google Patents

A vehicle driving simulator for training or use of automotive car drivers or mobile devices controlled or occupied by humans Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2018141023A1
WO2018141023A1 PCT/AU2018/050072 AU2018050072W WO2018141023A1 WO 2018141023 A1 WO2018141023 A1 WO 2018141023A1 AU 2018050072 W AU2018050072 W AU 2018050072W WO 2018141023 A1 WO2018141023 A1 WO 2018141023A1
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WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
vehicle
human
simulator
training
physical
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PCT/AU2018/050072
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French (fr)
Inventor
John Vincent Sunter
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Advancing Projects Pty Ltd
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Publication date
Priority claimed from AU2017900314A external-priority patent/AU2017900314A0/en
Application filed by Advancing Projects Pty Ltd filed Critical Advancing Projects Pty Ltd
Publication of WO2018141023A1 publication Critical patent/WO2018141023A1/en

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B9/00Simulators for teaching or training purposes
    • G09B9/02Simulators for teaching or training purposes for teaching control of vehicles or other craft
    • G09B9/04Simulators for teaching or training purposes for teaching control of vehicles or other craft for teaching control of land vehicles
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B9/00Simulators for teaching or training purposes
    • G09B9/02Simulators for teaching or training purposes for teaching control of vehicles or other craft
    • G09B9/08Simulators for teaching or training purposes for teaching control of vehicles or other craft for teaching control of aircraft, e.g. Link trainer
    • G09B9/12Motion systems for aircraft simulators

Definitions

  • This disclosure concerns the design and methods of a vehicle simulator device to train, familiarise use of, entertain, evaluate, and facilitate improved moving vehicle operation and / or control where a proximate human has a degree of responsibility for the movement of the vehicle and an ability to influence motion and/or be directly affected by it. It applies to most vehicle training and vehicle related entertainment fields, but is primarily aimed at the field of road safety and reducing the road toll by becoming a population scale norm for vehicle operation licensing.
  • the second aspect is the area of 'duplicated' forces, namely the whole of body movement / input that doing the activity being simulated can be replicated to a high degree of accuracy, be it jumps, bumps, shaking, rolling, prodding, wheel or engine vibrations, edge of control sensations, localised environment and of course, actual control interfacing. Audio matching is also important.
  • a conventional high-end vehicle simulator is configured as a motion platform on which the control cabin for the vehicle of interest is mounted, and in this regard the current invention is no different. That allows practicality of the base design being suited to different vehicle types that can be mounted to the vehicle simulator base structure, as also occurs with this invention.
  • the type of control cabin is usually an integral part of the simulator platform and solidly 'built in', whereas the current invention changing out / reorienting control cabins is much more straightforward.
  • the method of actuation of the motion platform for a conventional vehicle simulator is typically via multiple hydraulic or electro-linear actuators from below the platform, which requires expensive componentry and complex control software to achieve.
  • This invention eliminates the need for this complexity and expense whilst achieving better performance.
  • vehicle driving simulators concentrate on being applicable to driving automotive motor vehicles on roads or designated race tracks or the like, sometimes contemplating special purpose vehicles such as emergency vehicles and/or specific mobile device variants.
  • embodiment variations are suitable to cover all 'conventional' vehicles, plus many others that previously only field training has been able to service. Also, future vehicles, such as flying cars (with some in proving stages in 2017), will need practical ways to familiarise and teach human operators safe ways to control these devices, which this invention does.
  • a key failure area of existing vehicle simulator systems is that the actual training experiences themselves are a key factor, but existing vehicle simulator systems at the more economical end of the market do not address this fundamental area of delivering an EFFECTIVE experience very well when it comes to training. They are mostly inspired by a need to entertain or use low immersive and/or low realism devices to effect training, and rely on the subject to willingly throw in some karma to get them to believe. Whereas this invention has been set up from the outset knowing it is all about the lesson plans, so it is configured to ensure maximum flexibility and capability exists in this area, done in a realistic way that occupants can tolerate.
  • This simulator is designed from the outset for economical, practical population scale use. Not something seen in any other simulator design or system, ever. SUMMARY OF INVENTION
  • This invention provides an economical physical vehicle simulator training solution to enable varied objectives comprising:
  • the current invention is a disruptive approach which will achieve better outcomes more economically, and has the potential to become a pervasive technology underpinning many forms of risky human controlled activities.
  • the essence of this invention is to present a new mechanical engineering derived approach to solving the problem of building high realism low motion sickness inducing simulators at an economical price-point.
  • the solution presented in this invention comprises using geometry and mechanical elements to create a four degrees of freedom of movement system that can achieve most of the characteristics of motion and far greater motion range than conventional motion platform based systems that typically require 6 degrees of freedom of movement to achieve. This is achieved by using physical geometry to fix the rotation point relative to the occupant for simulation of the two main primary motions being experienced (typically velocity change; i.e. turning and speed change) and the addition of more degrees of freedom of movement to duplicate direct forces as needed.
  • this invention comprises methods to use recycled operator cabs from donor vehicles, typically after the vehicle has been in an accident. These are installed in a modular way so they can be readily changed out for different types or unit maintenance.
  • vehicles this invention applies to may be powered or unpowered and may be aided or unaided by technology that may assist, augment, or automate the control of the vehicle motion to any extent.
  • Vehicle examples include but are not limited to present forms, or those that are yet to come, of automobile variants such as "sedans", “station wagons", “hatchbacks”,
  • control of the vehicle be it by conventional direct physical operation of the vehicle, power assisted or not, or via signals provided by the controlling human in any way this may occur, the term 'control' is taken herein to embrace all possible means by which a vehicle may be caused to move by the human, including so-called driverless cars.
  • driverless cars already non- direct physical controls are used by disabled people to achieve physical outcomes and any such current or future mechanism will be duplicated in a similar manner to conventional controls and / or provided to a sufficient level to achieve an appropriately accurate immersive experience and is an anticipated and intended feature of this invention.
  • the vehicle simulator will need to take people to 'a heightened sense of awareness' and, in essence, scare them (at some level). This is based on well understood research that fear factor is a good teacher; humans learn most via close calls, or actual accidents that didn't kill / seriously maim them, which leads to inwardly driven behavioural changes / different choices going forward when later controlling a vehicle of similar type and possibly other types. These experiences that generate heightened understanding of situations are far more effective at getting desired outcomes than the typical societal response of using externally imposed penalties.
  • the current invention has been targeted at population scale implementation from the outset, so is designed and configured to be a highly effective vehicle simulator system that can be delivered at population scale quickly and economically.
  • population scale implementation contemplating a new driver scenario in NSW Australia, involves taking new drivers for a minimum of 10 training sessions over some months. To deliver this for 100% of the new licence holder throughput requires approx. 20 vehicle simulator centres scattered around the major cities of the State and each having approx. 15 vehicle simulator modules, with an intended cost per training session of approx. $A35 (based on Jan 2018 cost estimates).
  • This implementation is entirely compatible with existing licensing system expectations and is eminently achievable by the current invention, providing high-quality training experiences for a low delivered cost.
  • the current invention includes attributes that make it able to be rapidly up- scaled to population level as culturally and situationally appropriate lesson plans are developed to ensure sufficiently effective training.
  • Considerable flexibility of delivery techniques is enshrined in this invention to ensure the subtleties of the best training practices are collated and implemented quickly in accordance with a coordinated development process.
  • the 'authentic simulation environment' problem has many components which must all come together simultaneously, as well as objectives such as ease of use and maintainability.
  • a key issue is to simulate motion that realistically represents what the actual vehicle feels like and to respond correctly to operational input.
  • Another key issue is to interface the vehicle simulator motion with software that provides appropriate training experiences.
  • Yet another key issue is to ensure the visual and audio cues are provided in a way to accurately match physical movement, and do it in a way that the human doesn't suffer significant simulator sickness effects.
  • the method of this invention comprises placing a human in a vehicle simulator device that provides an artificial training and/or experiential environment that physically, visually, and aurally realistically simulates the environment the human experiences when in the actual vehicle, exposing the human to various purpose developed situations and / or experiences that may involve passive and/or active input from the human.
  • the current invention comprises a vehicle simulator device that simplifies previous largely / completely under-platform designs by using geometry to physically position the point the vehicle simulator rotates about to coincide with the desired rotation centre on the human body.
  • the rotation centre may be the body centroid of mass, or the head, or some other point that achieves the best simulation experience for the vehicle being simulated, potentially the steering wheel / control input device.
  • the geometry allows greatly simplified actuation componentry, which is now above / beside the platform level, and the control requirements are much simpler. Also this configuration makes it straightforward to add ancillary motion / sensory input systems to create a highly immersive experience.
  • the vehicle should be driven extensively in normal and worst-case scenarios with on-board datalogger recorded tri-axes accelerometers, inclinometers, and any other relevant sensors, located near the human subject's seat. Analysis of these results and comparing them with various known means of actuation will allow identification of the most suited equipment and give detailed guidance for programming the nuances of the operation into said actuators for the specific driving situation being simulated at the time.
  • the main actuation of the vehicle simulator control station is arranged to suit the specific control needs of the actual vehicle, using geometry to configure the vehicle simulator for the control motion range required for operation, and the support frame activated to suit the macro and micro movement of the vehicle.
  • 'bounce' cylinders are used in the rearmost corners to simulate things like pot-holes, road surface judder and vehicle 'hits' to kerbs / solid objects.
  • Eccentric mass motor/s are also used near the driver's seat to simulate vehicle and engine vibration.
  • the 'swell' of the sea may be simulated via a cyclic operation of two or more bounce cylinders, or by use of cam style actuators that may be additional or replace the bounce capability.
  • Suspending the frame from a fixed rod, chain, or wire rope system would achieve a sway motion simulation for other vehicle types, with the selected support style depending on the harshness of movement required for the main control motions and the extent to which one motion may affect another.
  • a primary ability of this invention is to significantly increase the range of movement through which a human can be exposed to in a simulated environment.
  • the prototype embodiment has movement ranges that are consistent with the forces a performance sports sedan may place on the body. Whilst it was easily possible, further range to simulate an actual accident was not included due to the trade-off between the desire to incite 'a heightened sense of awareness' and protecting the occupant from injury, which no amount of padding would guarantee. If a later assessment finds injury tolerance is an acceptable risk / pre-requisite for the vehicle simulator to get best learning outcomes, such capacity (and liability exemption forms! may be included.
  • this invention is entirely capable of simulating a 'Red-Baron' adrenaline junkie flight, either as pilot or passenger.
  • This invention is primarily intended for a single human controller situation, but dual control situations are also contemplated as embodiments where one person has a primary control responsibility and the persons may have alternate, complementary, shared or no control
  • Example situations of where this may be applicable include, but are not limited to, a driver - navigator relationship; a teacher - student situation; or a pilot - co-pilot situation.
  • a master- slave relationship would be established between two vehicle simulator modules, each having the requisite control stations, but the motion of the master simulator is duplicated on the slave without any motion related operational input at the slave station.
  • a further situation of simulation of dual control is that if, on the actual vehicle, the control stations are physically separated but physical control may reside with either or both stations at any time under set or other protocols, two vehicle simulator modules would be 'twinned' such that control passes between them in the same way as the real vehicle, but the station controlling the motion in the moment acts as master to the other unit as a slave.
  • a further situation of simulation of dual control is that if, on the actual vehicle, the control stations are physically together via a dual occupant single cab situation, two embodiments are envisaged.
  • the two control stations are located on separate vehicle simulator modules and the presence of the other person is simulated using one of the many available methods to do this, be it a constructed artificial representation or the preferred method of an in-cabin camera/s providing augmented reality images of the actual person doing exactly what they are doing at the specific moment.
  • the vehicle simulator geometry would be set up to put the point of rotation about that axis to be in the geometric centre of the two people and both occupy the same vehicle simulator module cabin. For example, if an experienced driver is a passenger in a simulated automobile vehicle driven by a student, and the intent is the experienced driver coach the trainee through simulated situations arising, it is unlikely the vehicle will be turning sharply.
  • Rotating the vehicle for turn about the centre console would be limited to empirically determined limits for rate and absolute angle, so is unlikely to incurring increased simulator sickness or injury from the 'throwing' of the occupants due to the off-centre motion of the vehicle simulator module.
  • This embodiment would be applicable for both single and dual control situations.
  • the geometrical centre of the vehicle simulator module would be automatically adjustable to match the operator's position via any one of many practical means to achieve this; e.g. mounting the relevant bearing assembly/s on a slide/s which is repositioned according to proximity or other sensors in the cabin.
  • a person may choose to stand, or spin around in their seat to view / adjust other controls located behind / near them.
  • a further embodiment would be to lock the motion/s the operator just moved off centre of, such that the vehicle simulator module could only operate at a much-reduced rate and/or range, or such other restriction / modification as was appropriate to the human controller's changed / current physical status.
  • embodiments may be configured with 'niceties' such as a succinctly located variable speed and/or variable direction fan, with intensity related to how far the window is wound down.
  • a heating element may be included to simulate a hot day. It is also envisaged that the air conditioning function may be optionally retained, with a direct drive motor added to the pump unit for this purpose.
  • a vehicle simulator module may comprise rapidly pulse / gently direct warm / cool air at the human participant, sudden sharp or comforting vibrations, or pleasant or unpleasant noises. These effects may be utilised to reinforce training lessons (e.g. heightened 'fear factor' after an important error) or to enhance feelings of goodwill or success to reward good behaviour, or simply provide the more pleasant or otherwise experience for reasons related to other objectives.
  • the current invention can be applied to almost any vehicle type for training and / or pleasure purposes, and can provide enhanced individual or multi-person immersive realism experiences that go well beyond anything that has previously been economically possible.
  • the visceral high impact nature of the invention is such that it is likely to become a catalyst for social change that goes well beyond what it directly teaches. Once enough people have learned and processed the core lessons, a grounds well of what is and isn't acceptable will emerge in the population and a new behavioural culture will manifest which will self-regulate as new norms become the status quo, both for expected norms and the policing thereof. Perhaps more the domain of a PhD than a patent, but nevertheless this is an expected advantageous effect and is very much one that underpins the development of the invention in the first place as it relates to the road toll, although this effect will carry through to other areas.
  • This invention provides a society's Congress with the tools for evaluation and / or remedial training and ultimately to withdraw the right from people to drive in a way that will be respected by the societies they serve.
  • the imagination only limits entertainment related uses of this invention. In a non- or low- participative way, people will be able to do such things as ride jet boats or hang gliders in beautiful places, take a rickshaw, or a rocket, to out of the way places, surf monster ocean reef waves in a moonscape, or engage in any manner of other fantasy / simulated real situation. And hook up with their friends (or strangers) in other simulator modules having the same experience, if they so choose. Or just do some familiarisation / desensitising prior to actual vehicle travel.
  • FIG 3 Proof-of-Concept Prototype Plan View including Sub-Assembly Mass Estimates
  • Figure 4 Proof-of-Concept Prototype Main Support Arm Plan, Elevation & End Elev Views
  • Figure 5 Proof-of-Concept Prototype Side Elevation View Showing Range of 'tilt' motion
  • Figure 6 Proof-of-Concept Prototype Rear Elevation View Showing Range of 'turn' motion
  • Figure 7 Prototype Side Elevation of Modifications Required for Rotation About Subject's Head
  • Figure 8 Prototype Rear Elevation of Modifications Required for Rotation About Subject's Head
  • Figure 9 Proof-of-Concept Prototype Hydraulic Schematic
  • Figure 14 Alternate Embodiment of Prototype Embodiment - Motion Range
  • Figure 15 Abstract Drawing, combining a simplified version of Figures 1, 2 and 13
  • the principle goal of the current invention is to deliver effective training.
  • a secondary goal is to deliver it at a very attractive price point.
  • some embodiments that will contribute to the first goal at the expense of the second may ultimately be proven to be preferred embodiments.
  • a core aspect of this invention is that the vehicle simulator module hardware is configured such that it mechanically, via geometry, creates a situation where the movement of the vehicle simulator is generally about a desired centre of rotation on the human vehicle controller / occupant, nominally the centre of mass of a human body. This both enhances the perception of reality immersion for the operator and reduces the likelihood of them suffering from simulator sickness. Because the science is not yet clear around all aspects of simulator sickness, the prototype has been initially constructed with the centre of rotation around the subject's belly button, being their notional seated centroid of mass, determined from the inventor's assessment of the published information. But the prototype has been configured to be readily modified to rotate about a higher position on the body, e.g. the head, or steering wheel.
  • the prototype is fully constructed from regular steel sections with the emphasis on making a development platform that can serve many purposes. Construction of a production model may be of lightweight materials to suit low pressure hydraulics, pneumatic or electro-linear actuators, or a combination of any or all motion inducement / force application systems, including resonant energy / force amplification systems.
  • Auxiliary suspension systems may be used to change the character of movement to better suit the simulated vehicle, and these may include guy wires from above and / or the sides using fixed and/or moving frame elements that may also contain spring and / or damping elements.
  • the visual display to vehicle simulator module occupants will be via commercially available 3D virtualisation headset technology such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or others, augmented reality glasses (currently under development), or one of the many LCD or other types of visual display units or projectors to project a 3D image with active shutter glasses used to view the images.
  • a head mounted camera will optionally be utilised to provide an augmented reality view that shows the vehicle the person is in and their own hands and body within it, either via using green-screening techniques or display area mapping within the software, or other commercially available technique.
  • This equipment continues at a furious pace and already wider field of view higher resolution wireless Virtual Reality headsets are being demonstrated and curved screen displays are on the way, both at headset level and large scale. These developments will only serve to deepen the already exceptional immersion levels that the current invention makes possible.
  • the audio stream to vehicle simulator module occupants will be via commercially available headphone hardware, either as it comes with a 3D headset or a separately available multidimensional audio presence unit.
  • the prototype demonstrates how this invention is configured to be either a fixed multi- module system or a mobile system that can be relocated, possibly with motion rate limitations if it was not to be secured to the floor.
  • This invention needs to be constructed to relevant standards that includes compliance with amusement park ride standards for construction and operation.
  • the prototype has been nominally designed for a driver not to exceed 120kg. Larger drivers could be readily accommodated using normal engineering principles, but the initial aim was to be able to service 95% of the population, which the prototype does.
  • the prototype frame is constructed from standard steel parallel flange channel, angle and flat bar sections as outlined in the drawings. All joins are fully welded both sides and often all round, generally with at least an 8mm fillet weld. All motion bearings are NTN UCP212 assemblies running on 60mm K1040 shafts that were pre-heated and welded into position. All cylinders are an agricultural style manufactured by Bailey Hydraulics in USA. Bounce cylinders are restrained with Stauff heavy duty polypropylene 60.3mm weld base clamps (P/N SPAL6060.3PPDPALAS). Grade 8.8 bolts used throughout.
  • the prototype vehicle control cabin is bolted to the support platform at the original front sub-frame support points at the front. At the rear, it is bolted in two places through a transverse chassis stiffening member, complete with 50mm square washer packing pieces so the member is not crushed. Additionally, at the seams running longitudinally under the door frames, support is provided via 40mm angle sections bolted through the seam and to the support platform.
  • Control cabin mounting may be via bolts and brackets as per the prototype.
  • An alternate mounting system envisaged is a 'dam and glue bath' adapter frame based system where an adaptor frame is used to connect the cabin to the support platform.
  • the adapter frame has a floor and raised edges all round and is filled with a urethane, epoxy resin or other glue compound and the control cabin is placed in it.
  • the cabin structure is integrally bonded to the adapter base which in turn is clamped to the main support platform structure assembly. This allows for quick change of the cabin for a different type, off-line maintenance of the cabin unit, refreshing the control cabin after a prolonged period of throwing people about and the like.
  • Having an adapter frame for the control cabin also allows for cabin orientation to be easily varied, e.g. by 90° to suit a different operational style of vehicle, or any other purpose.
  • a feature of the current invention is the modular approach taken to the development to suit the desired population scale implementation under the primary objective. It must be easy for any control station to be fitted to a simulator assembly with the desired motion characteristics. Since it is likely the control cabins are being taken from a multitude of differently designed donor vehicles, a kit style approach is being taken. For example, the brake pedal response must feel realistic.
  • the brake 'kit' involves connecting a fixed resistance element (e.g. a nylon brake hose) to the master cylinder discharge complete with a pressure transducer.
  • a fixed resistance element e.g. a nylon brake hose
  • Clutch pedal is similar to brake.
  • some vehicles can have their electric power assist system simply modified to generate the desired resistance and others need an add on module such as a spring or weight centred magnetic variable clutch that varies resistance according to a speed dependent control input.
  • Gearsticks for automatic vehicles can easily take the cable or linkage output of an existing shifter to an interface module that includes the necessary ball indents to get the right 'feel' .
  • Manual gearbox shifters have been avoided in the initial prototype construction as 'unnecessary complication' and new vehicle sales with manual transmission are a miniscule fraction of what they once were. If a purpose designed interface module is problematic they will be dealt with by installing a proprietary gaming console driving unit suitably modified to match the vehicle it is installed in.
  • a key understanding point for this invention is that what comes FIRST is the simulator responds to the operator' s input directly, not by a more conventional approach of sending the operator's input to a high level computer that then decides what to tell the hardware to do, and is a major software project to do this. Once the simulator is being properly controlled by the human and it moves when and how much, and in the characteristic way it is told to, then the computer can get involved and add things like bounce or vibration, or provide control variation input if that is appropriate.
  • the proportional control valves take input from linear position transducers (variable resistors) located adjacent to the cylinders, a rotary encoder fitted to the steering system, a pressure transducer on the brakes and a variable resistor accelerator and compares the status to operator requested input and produces the requisite hydraulic fluid flows to get the required movement and keep the equipment in the state the operator requires it.
  • linear position transducers variable resistors
  • a rotary encoder fitted to the steering system
  • a pressure transducer on the brakes and a variable resistor accelerator
  • the PC takes the absolute position of the steering wheel as the direct feed to the proportional valve.
  • the PC also adds a speed component according to a signal from the main computer (which the chicken also sends a signal to the vehicle speedometer to display the value).
  • the response to the speed signal is in accordance with actual responses measured from a real vehicle at similar speed and steering angles.
  • the PC will compare the steering input and vehicle speed which, if it is outside defined values, will also trigger other outputs to provide a harshness response via bounce cylinder operation and audial cues for traction loss. If the computer is not sending a speed signal, the signal provided to the valves is zero, just like a real vehicle.
  • the PC will send a signal to the proportional valve that directly reflects the input for the respective controller.
  • the PC will first subtract the average tilt effects of the current position of the bounce cylinders, as determined by inclinometers on the main frame near each cylinder - this creates a self- levelling response such that the bounce cylinders do not also tilt the occupant.
  • the PC will produce an output that reflects the relative strength of the two counteracting inputs to determine the average tilt response, and provide that as a control signal.
  • an amount of 'flutter' is added to the control signal to indicate an appropriate 'distressed' response from this operational condition.
  • the bounce cylinders are normally at rest then a 'normal' bounce will be to drive a cylinder up against a flow control valve (which can be set differently for the closer and further cylinder), then drive it back down against another flow control valve and, just before it gets to the bottom, the cyl hits a limit switch so the valve goes to neutral and the unit falls the rest of the way against the same flow control valve, thus creating a cushion effect.
  • the valves on the prototype can be cycled at 4Hz, so a lot of creative effects can be produced to suit the desired 'terrain type' response.
  • the next task is to interface with a PC that is providing the audio-visual information.
  • a PC that is providing the audio-visual information.
  • the way this is done for the prototype is to take a commercially available game controller, being the full driving set complete with pedals, steering wheel, vibrator, gearstick, and peripherals such as horn, lights and the like, and dismantle it.
  • the relevant input components are carefully distributed about the simulator control cabin to take the input feed from the actual controllers, and then wired back to the control module of the game controller, thus retaining a full usb (or other) interface to a PC.
  • Outputs from the PC to the game controller are connected to shields on the chicken to provide a reference signal for actions such as force feedback, and the PC can then trigger attendant responses on the simulator e.g. a variable speed vibrator assembly under the driver's seat.
  • the prototype is fitted with an over- abundance of sensors to ensure the exact characteristics of the motion are understood for better matching to the actual vehicle (to the extent that achieving a 'believable' experience requires it).
  • inclinometers mounted to all moving parts, proximity sensors to determine actual absolute position, multiple limits to stop Out of bounds' operation and advise the proximity thereof, as well as cylinder position sensors seat mentioned earlier.
  • Vehicle sensors are also used to ensure operation is as intended, so seat belt interlock must show driver is clipped up and passenger seat must be empty (unless designed otherwise).
  • An emergency stop button is located inside the vehicle cabin and another at the rear of the simulator. This latter stop button in a production scenario will be key operated as a final supervisory check for 'permission to start'.
  • the next task is to properly interface with the operating software in a universal way.
  • a head mounted camera is optionally used to show the insides of the vehicle control cabin, including the actual human operator's arms and body (when being looked at), and then to map the video feed of the operating software such that the vehicle windows and rear vision mirrors receive the correct feed. This is done via well understood techniques such as green- screening, view area mapping or others, a discussion of which is beyond the scope of this patent.
  • What this invention additionally proposes is automated rating regimes comprising for instance a series of recognised competent test drivers completing the specific exercise and the subject is rated across a suite of variables for how close they were to the median point of the test drivers per unit time, how often they were outside the 95% curve (or other limit), etc.; then weighted scores can be condensed across the variables monitored. Exactly what these variables should be will be determined by which ones are most relevant with respect to the required outcomes. Examples might include position on the road, time looking at mirrors, instantaneous speed, max and min cornering velocities, jerkiness, time between
  • the prototype has two independent means of support to cover all times when a person may be working under it.
  • One is in the form of bolted in place props able to take the full weight of the respective loads.
  • the other is the motion hydraulic cylinders being fitted with dual counterbalance valves to ensure any hose breakage or pressure loss event doesn't result in a sudden uncontrolled movement, but locks the prototype in the then position. If the cylinders are non-functional separate props / securing methods (eg chain block) are used for this safety aspect.
  • Achieving mechanical rotation generally about the operator's centre of mass or other desired point using geometry and mechanical elements can be achieved in many practical ways that result in a stable vehicle simulator with high structural integrity, and these are all applications of this invention.
  • another embodiment of the demonstrated prototype could include the tilt bearing assembly (for acceleration / braking motion effect) being placed inside the vehicle cabin immediately adjacent to the driver by moving the passenger seat forward, removing it entirely, or modifying it to allow it to appear similar visually, but have the bearings immediately under the fabric cover.
  • the tilt bearing assembly could be placed outboard of the driver, in which case the driver would enter via the passenger side or via a longitudinal split in the car whereby the passenger side half car assembly operated as a complete door, or mounting the driver seat on a slide or hoist system.
  • the motion platform frame would just carry the driver's module and the entire passenger side module would be a tilt / swing open / sliding door assembly / fixed door and slide in driver seat and only required to retain sufficient componentry to complement the driver's view, with enough structural rigidity to function as a door / cab cell.
  • Another example of an embodiment achieving mechanical rotation generally about the operator's centre of mass or other point for the demonstrated prototype could include the turn bearing assembly being placed at the front of the vehicle cabin immediately adjacent to the firewall (allowing suitable rotational clearance), or alternately on a cantilevered turret that positions the bearing assembly immediately behind the driver's seat.
  • These embodiments are examples of structural optimisation of the demonstrated prototype design, noting that only the turret embodiment would be suitable for a point of rotation above the windscreen level.
  • Another example of an embodiment achieving mechanical rotation generally about the operator's centre of mass or other point is to use a gimbal bearings style of support. This would allow for great efficiencies in structural design and would be configured such that the gimbal cage partially hinges open to allow access, and clamps shut with the driver in place. Alternately the driver seat assembly could be raised / lowered into the gimbal cage and clamped in position.
  • FIG. 1 Another example of an embodiment achieving mechanical rotation generally about the operator's centre of mass or other point is to use a hubless 'rolling race' style of support, generally as per the gimbal bearing style but with less surrounding structure.
  • a hubless 'rolling race' style of support In a rolling race style, there is an outer ring hub that is directly supported across a short distance by bearings and this hub is directly connected to the operator station. That hub assembly is mounted in another hub supported in the same way but at 90 degrees.
  • these may be dual hubs for either or both motions. They may extend to provide full 360-degree rotation, or may travel a lesser amount.
  • the T-pattern base assembly of the prototype embodiment could be constructed as various other base assembly patterns comprising H, triangle, square, circular, rectangular, diamond, pentagonal, polygonal or some combination thereof (eg double rectangle, square plus triangle) and including 'bounce' cylinders at some or all vertices and/or located around the periphery.
  • base assembly patterns comprising H, triangle, square, circular, rectangular, diamond, pentagonal, polygonal or some combination thereof (eg double rectangle, square plus triangle) and including 'bounce' cylinders at some or all vertices and/or located around the periphery.
  • 'bounce' cylinders in the prototype embodiment is one form of inducing macro and micro effect movement.
  • Other embodiments could comprise equipment such as air bellows, pneumatic cylinders, lifting bags, electro-linear actuators, rotary actuators, motorised chain systems or other such methods of imparting representative motion characteristic of the vehicle being simulated.
  • the vehicle simulator module frame of the prototype embodiment as demonstrated is supported from the floor.
  • the vehicle simulator frame could be suspended flexibly or rigidly from a frame above.
  • a lateral translation motion to accentuate the effect, eg as a conventional 6DOF motion platform can initially (for a very short distance! move horizontally to give an initial jarring sensation of acceleration (or braking).
  • a moving base to any of the proposed embodiments such that the simulator assembly translates in any desired direction, for a distance only limited by the activation mechanism selected.
  • Figure 13 is shown an embodiment supported by transfer ball bearings (having a rating of 2t each) and activated by hydraulic cylinders.
  • Many conventional alternate mechanical solutions could achieve the same result, such as wheels and rails; the wheels could be driven or the assembly activated by other conventional means.
  • a preferred embodiment of adding the lateral freedom of movement is a large plenum, hovercraft style. This has the advantage of improved chassis stiffness for mounting vehicle frame supports, plus an absorptive cushioning edge element can prevent vibration transmission when the simulator is 'at rest'.
  • a preferred embodiment for a different 'strand' is more about a twinning of physical and relevant VR technologies to provide an elite gaming and entertainment platform. This would be a 'blinged up' version, having more comfort, intrigue, operational capability / modes, and adjustability features.
  • AU2013327398 Driver training system and method' - one way to implement a proper driver training regime in the physical world. It is a prime example of why the current invention exists, illustrating just how hard it is to do an effective job of training humans in the real world.
  • CN103854533 'Driving simulation method and system' - a description of a simulator control system for the specific simulator hardware described.
  • US928969 'Motion platform for a simulation device' - a complex method to achieve much better motion platform movement range; this is a seriously high-end simulator.
  • a DRIVING SIMULATOR' - a more compact version of an earlier design, well inferior in outcomes to the current invention; may have a later priority date.
  • EP3243055 'METHOD FOR OPERATING A DRIVING SIMULATOR' - looks interesting, but doesn't achieve as good outcomes in any aspect as the current invention.
  • CN 1 . 06409060 Automobile driving simulator' - a combination game controller and manually activated tilting base.
  • CN106128208 'Research type automobile driving simulator capable of rotating cabin' - primitive mechanical system with good visuals.
  • CN105999696 'Driving simulator' - a control system.
  • CN106023712 Simulator platform capable of rotating unlimitedly' - a variation on a 6DOF base.
  • CN106023713 'Vehicle driving simulator capable of making turn or turning around continuously - a variation on a 6DOF base.
  • 2695643 UNIVERSAL AUTOMOBILE DRIVING SIMULATOR' - a combination game controller and manually activated tilting base.
  • 102009000929 'Driving simulator has cockpit with seat for driver and operating element of vehicle, and housing is provided with which driver is screened from optical influences of outer side of driving simulator' -
  • 20100216097 'REALISTIC MECHANIC SIMULATOR FOR SENSATIONS OF VEHICLES IN MOVEMENT' - a beautiful but complicated way of achieving an inferior geometrical outcome.
  • 202004012869 'Motor vehicle driving simulator for use in vehicle ready to drive, has virtual image of arbitrary vehicle transmitted back to real vehicle' - as above.
  • 202004012868 'Motor vehicle driving simulator for use in real vehicle not ready for driving, has virtual image transmitted back to realvehicle from arbitrary vehicle' - as above.
  • 2006Q04023 Driving simulator having articial intelligence profiles, replay, hazards, and other features' -
  • 000010211884 'Modular driving simulator with motion system, has sub-module pivotable about a transverse axis at the driver's eye level is provided beneath the mockup to simulate pitching motion' -
  • 000010119486 'Driving simulator has at least three motion modules; each wheel of motion module is in form of dual wheel; drive device can drive both dual wheels differently' -

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Abstract

A low motion sickness inducing vehicle simulator system suitable for use at population scale to reduce the road toll which system is suited to most vehicle types and has many training and entertainment applications. The simulator separates generation of 'imaginary' and 'duplicated' forces, being those simulated to replace motion induced vector acceleration forces and those replicated of directly experienced forces, typically as whole of body input. For imaginary forces, a desired centre of rotation is selected and mechanical elements arranged in a geometrical configuration such that motion principally occurs about the selected rotational point, for up to 360 degrees in two planes. For the duplicated forces, other actuators or devices are added to impart the desired sensations. An embodiment of the system comprises a geometrically fixed bi-planar rotation centre.

Description

A VEHICLE DRIVING SIMULATOR FOR TRAINING OR USE OF AUTOMOTIVE CAR DRIVERS OR MOBILE DEVICES CONTROLLED OR OCCUPIED BY HUMANS
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
[0001] This disclosure concerns the design and methods of a vehicle simulator device to train, familiarise use of, entertain, evaluate, and facilitate improved moving vehicle operation and / or control where a proximate human has a degree of responsibility for the movement of the vehicle and an ability to influence motion and/or be directly affected by it. It applies to most vehicle training and vehicle related entertainment fields, but is primarily aimed at the field of road safety and reducing the road toll by becoming a population scale norm for vehicle operation licensing.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[0002] It has been known for a long time that humans learn almost as well from simulated experiences as from real experiences as the human brain makes little distinction between what it perceives as real and what is actually real. There is extensive public domain info on this topic so the merits of creating brain-believable simulation experiences are not being be repeated here.
[0003] In the domain of vehicle operational training there are many forms of vehicle operator simulator experiences, including some that provide for driving passenger cars and variants. The problem with any of the existing approaches is they are all very expensive, or the type or level of simulation of the driving experience is inadequate for substantial learnings to take place, or both.
[0004] The general intent of existing vehicle simulator systems is to cater to an elite customer, mostly because of the high absorbed cost of providing the equipment or service. The current invention has been targeted at economic delivery of high quality simulation experiences from the outset, and the procedures and methods to achieve this form part of the described invention.
[0005] What is very important for the physical simulation aspect of a simulator, but there has been a general failure of the prior art to recognise and properly deal with, is that there are two separate things going on in any simulation experience. The first is the genuinely 'simulated' or 'imaginary' forces, namely to replace motion induced vector acceleration forces the human experiences when doing the actual activity in the real world with a simulated equivalent force, for which we only have gravity and inertia. At best, this is only an approximation of what happens, but the evidence shows it is an effective one. This aspect is an absolute constraint on any earthbound simulation device.
[0006] The second aspect is the area of 'duplicated' forces, namely the whole of body movement / input that doing the activity being simulated can be replicated to a high degree of accuracy, be it jumps, bumps, shaking, rolling, prodding, wheel or engine vibrations, edge of control sensations, localised environment and of course, actual control interfacing. Audio matching is also important.
[0007] Existing simulators mix these two areas together so simulated and duplicated force generation overlap in mechanisms that are about trying to do all things at once. Ultimately, the difficulty of getting a close match between the physicality of the situation being simulated, and the subject's perception of it, can lead to a high probability of simulator sickness. The current invention adopts a pioneering approach to separate these two areas, so the 'imaginary' simulated forces are dealt with as close to reality as they can be, and the other forces / aspects that are capable of direct reproduction (to the extent desired) are kept separate. If the duplicated forces are a good match to what the subject is seeing and hearing, and the simulated 'imaginary' forces are in the general vicinity of what the subject would expect to feel, the propensity for motion sickness will be much reduced.
[0008] There are many functional problems regarding the use of vehicle simulator systems that aren't adequately addressed by current designs. A key one is simulator motion sickness
susceptibility which exists in the population. A primary causal factor relates to the way the vehicle simulator moves the human. Research shows that making the centre of movement about the head will reduce the effect; other research shows it is reduced by making the centre of movement around the centre of mass - for a seated human in a car this is approximately where their belly button is. In practice, these have proven to be hard things for previous designs to achieve with any useful range of motion capacity. This invention greatly simplifies doing this.
[0009] It is also known there are many other causal factors that impact the time to onset and severity of a simulator motion sickness effect. These include image 'disconnect' (e.g. by level of immersion / realism / inaccurate tracking / judder / latency and the like), vection (apparent motion due to perceived mismatch between virtual image and real motion), Vestibular mismatch (between that presented by the virtual image and gravity sense of the otolith organs) and speed of movement, amongst other things. The science is not conclusive in this area. Existing vehicle simulators deal with this by either keeping absolute motion speed and distance moved down, or attempting complex computerised control around theoretical rotation centres (the conventional 'motion platform' approach), and/or other techniques in combination. This invention greatly reduces these problematic effects, so measures taken to counteract them are much less intrusive.
[0010] A conventional high-end vehicle simulator is configured as a motion platform on which the control cabin for the vehicle of interest is mounted, and in this regard the current invention is no different. That allows practicality of the base design being suited to different vehicle types that can be mounted to the vehicle simulator base structure, as also occurs with this invention. In conventional simulators, the type of control cabin is usually an integral part of the simulator platform and solidly 'built in', whereas the current invention changing out / reorienting control cabins is much more straightforward.
[0011] The method of actuation of the motion platform for a conventional vehicle simulator is typically via multiple hydraulic or electro-linear actuators from below the platform, which requires expensive componentry and complex control software to achieve. This invention eliminates the need for this complexity and expense whilst achieving better performance.
[0012] One common failing of previous vehicle simulator designs is their limited range of motion. All sorts of techniques are utilised to overcome this inability to increase the movement range, and therefore the forces on the occupant' s body to take the realism to the level they might otherwise desire. However, there is nothing like the real thing, being a fundamental aspect of this invention which can economically take 'range of motion' to the extreme end of the spectrum. Others that have managed high ranges have done it in complex ways with less realistic surroundings and they don't have methods to reduce simulator sickness effects built in.
[0013] Commonly, vehicle driving simulators concentrate on being applicable to driving automotive motor vehicles on roads or designated race tracks or the like, sometimes contemplating special purpose vehicles such as emergency vehicles and/or specific mobile device variants.
Because of how the current invention has been configured, embodiment variations are suitable to cover all 'conventional' vehicles, plus many others that previously only field training has been able to service. Also, future vehicles, such as flying cars (with some in proving stages in 2017), will need practical ways to familiarise and teach human operators safe ways to control these devices, which this invention does.
[0014] A key failure area of existing vehicle simulator systems is that the actual training experiences themselves are a key factor, but existing vehicle simulator systems at the more economical end of the market do not address this fundamental area of delivering an EFFECTIVE experience very well when it comes to training. They are mostly inspired by a need to entertain or use low immersive and/or low realism devices to effect training, and rely on the subject to willingly throw in some karma to get them to believe. Whereas this invention has been set up from the outset knowing it is all about the lesson plans, so it is configured to ensure maximum flexibility and capability exists in this area, done in a realistic way that occupants can tolerate.
[0015] This simulator is designed from the outset for economical, practical population scale use. Not something seen in any other simulator design or system, ever. SUMMARY OF INVENTION
[0016] Throughout this specification, the word 'comprise', or variations such as 'comprises' or 'comprising', will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated element, integer or step, or group of elements, integers or steps, but not the exclusion of any other element, integer or step, or group of elements, integers or steps. For clarity, 'comprise' and 'include but not limited to', or said variations, are equivalent terms in meaning and effect.
[0017] This invention provides an economical physical vehicle simulator training solution to enable varied objectives comprising:
a) A substantial reduction in the road toll and / or accident and injury rates.
b) Training in physical and mental ability to control many different vehicle types.
c) A method for vehicle control skill evaluation and / or remedial training validation.
d) Entertainment / competition / multi-player experiences related to vehicles.
e) Familiarisation / desensitising prior to actual vehicle travel.
f) A method to simultaneously train / engage large numbers of people.
[0018] The current invention is a disruptive approach which will achieve better outcomes more economically, and has the potential to become a pervasive technology underpinning many forms of risky human controlled activities.
[0019] The essence of this invention is to present a new mechanical engineering derived approach to solving the problem of building high realism low motion sickness inducing simulators at an economical price-point. The solution presented in this invention comprises using geometry and mechanical elements to create a four degrees of freedom of movement system that can achieve most of the characteristics of motion and far greater motion range than conventional motion platform based systems that typically require 6 degrees of freedom of movement to achieve. This is achieved by using physical geometry to fix the rotation point relative to the occupant for simulation of the two main primary motions being experienced (typically velocity change; i.e. turning and speed change) and the addition of more degrees of freedom of movement to duplicate direct forces as needed. A four degree of freedom prototype has been produced to illustrate an embodiment of the invention and many other embodiments are contemplated herein, including up to 360-degree movement in two directions and also a moving centre of rotation for situations where the occupant moves inside the cabin. Additionally, two further degrees of freedom of movement can be readily integrated into the main simulator, for more 'extreme' simulation applications. [0020] In another aspect, this invention comprises methods to use recycled operator cabs from donor vehicles, typically after the vehicle has been in an accident. These are installed in a modular way so they can be readily changed out for different types or unit maintenance.
[0021] For clarity, vehicles this invention applies to may be powered or unpowered and may be aided or unaided by technology that may assist, augment, or automate the control of the vehicle motion to any extent. Vehicle examples include but are not limited to present forms, or those that are yet to come, of automobile variants such as "sedans", "station wagons", "hatchbacks",
"buggies", and "utilities", motorcycles, motorcycle variants such as "trikes" and quads", go-karts, omnibuses, trucks, semi-trailers, prime-movers, bicycles, personal flight craft (whether propelled by propeller, jet or other means), multi-purpose vehicles, emergency vehicles, disabled driver modified vehicles, hovercraft, flying cars, mobile industrial machinery, lifting and carrying equipment such as cranes and forklifts, mining equipment, farm machinery, earthmoving equipment, rail vehicles, marine craft, sail craft, jet skis, surfboards and variants, amusement park carriages, submarine devices, and personal spacecraft.
[0022] Whatever the manner of control of the vehicle, be it by conventional direct physical operation of the vehicle, power assisted or not, or via signals provided by the controlling human in any way this may occur, the term 'control' is taken herein to embrace all possible means by which a vehicle may be caused to move by the human, including so-called driverless cars. Already non- direct physical controls are used by disabled people to achieve physical outcomes and any such current or future mechanism will be duplicated in a similar manner to conventional controls and / or provided to a sufficient level to achieve an appropriately accurate immersive experience and is an anticipated and intended feature of this invention.
[0023] For the objective to reduce the road toll by long term changes in behaviour, the vehicle simulator will need to take people to 'a heightened sense of awareness' and, in essence, scare them (at some level). This is based on well understood research that fear factor is a good teacher; humans learn most via close calls, or actual accidents that didn't kill / seriously maim them, which leads to inwardly driven behavioural changes / different choices going forward when later controlling a vehicle of similar type and possibly other types. These experiences that generate heightened understanding of situations are far more effective at getting desired outcomes than the typical societal response of using externally imposed penalties. Considering that the invention will be implemented across a population that already has a range of experience, skills and attitudes, once it is clear where the highest risk individuals are, for them this invention can provide 'shock and awe therapy', to graphically portray the potential consequences of their actions. Or ultimately remove them from the roads altogether, and their return subject to passing rigorous simulator evaluation tests once any penalty exclusions are completed.
[0024] The current invention has been targeted at population scale implementation from the outset, so is designed and configured to be a highly effective vehicle simulator system that can be delivered at population scale quickly and economically. One example of population scale implementation, contemplating a new driver scenario in NSW Australia, involves taking new drivers for a minimum of 10 training sessions over some months. To deliver this for 100% of the new licence holder throughput requires approx. 20 vehicle simulator centres scattered around the major cities of the State and each having approx. 15 vehicle simulator modules, with an intended cost per training session of approx. $A35 (based on Jan 2018 cost estimates). This implementation is entirely compatible with existing licensing system expectations and is eminently achievable by the current invention, providing high-quality training experiences for a low delivered cost.
[0025] In another aspect, the current invention includes attributes that make it able to be rapidly up- scaled to population level as culturally and situationally appropriate lesson plans are developed to ensure sufficiently effective training. Considerable flexibility of delivery techniques is enshrined in this invention to ensure the subtleties of the best training practices are collated and implemented quickly in accordance with a coordinated development process.
Technical Problem
[0026] There are two basic categories of problem to be overcome; 1) How to economically put humans in an authentic simulation environment that is sufficiently realistic that high training retention is likely? and 2) What training experiences to provide to achieve high value outcomes?
[0027] The 'authentic simulation environment' problem has many components which must all come together simultaneously, as well as objectives such as ease of use and maintainability. A key issue is to simulate motion that realistically represents what the actual vehicle feels like and to respond correctly to operational input. Another key issue is to interface the vehicle simulator motion with software that provides appropriate training experiences. Yet another key issue is to ensure the visual and audio cues are provided in a way to accurately match physical movement, and do it in a way that the human doesn't suffer significant simulator sickness effects.
[0028] The 'training experiences 'problem is exacerbated by the 'attention overload' issues that can readily occur in simulated environments. There is little guidance or concerted effort on how to match experiences provided to underlying knowledge of human psychiatry. It is also hard to determine the quality of the learning experiences / performance other than by later field analysis. Solution to Problem
[0029] The method of this invention comprises placing a human in a vehicle simulator device that provides an artificial training and/or experiential environment that physically, visually, and aurally realistically simulates the environment the human experiences when in the actual vehicle, exposing the human to various purpose developed situations and / or experiences that may involve passive and/or active input from the human.
[0030] The current invention comprises a vehicle simulator device that simplifies previous largely / completely under-platform designs by using geometry to physically position the point the vehicle simulator rotates about to coincide with the desired rotation centre on the human body. The rotation centre may be the body centroid of mass, or the head, or some other point that achieves the best simulation experience for the vehicle being simulated, potentially the steering wheel / control input device. The geometry allows greatly simplified actuation componentry, which is now above / beside the platform level, and the control requirements are much simpler. Also this configuration makes it straightforward to add ancillary motion / sensory input systems to create a highly immersive experience.
[0031] The concept of using geometry to achieve better operation of a vehicle simulator module is explained very clearly by the proof-of-concept prototype embodiment and related notes and drawings, so a detailed textual explanation of the many elements is not presented. Rather, explanation is provided for the complementary activities / aspects needed to fully understand the invention, and to explain other ways in which embodiments of this invention can be presented. Once the prototype is understood, the essence of how to achieve alternate embodiments will be clear to anyone with a detailed understanding of relevant multi-disciplinary engineering design principles and practices, with substantial expertise in relevant fields.
[0032] Because the current invention has a completely new geometrical approach to creating a vehicle simulator module, the scope for embodiments of a vehicle simulator module is quite wide. For the specific vehicle to be simulated it is critical to first define the actual motion of the vehicle in the real world. A secondary but nevertheless important requirement is to get a proper definition of how the vehicle is actually used in the real world, and what the range / tolerance of such use may be. In essence what 'can' it do and what does it really do? This information is best initially gathered by direct measurement of the vehicle operation; e.g. what is the maximum and normal range for braking / acceleration performance and rate of turn? Basic maths will turn these into vector sums to determine the required angles of tilt to simulate a similar resultant force on a human body. To determine the macro movements of the vehicle body, and gain a detailed understanding of the micro movements the relevant human subject is exposed to, the vehicle should be driven extensively in normal and worst-case scenarios with on-board datalogger recorded tri-axes accelerometers, inclinometers, and any other relevant sensors, located near the human subject's seat. Analysis of these results and comparing them with various known means of actuation will allow identification of the most suited equipment and give detailed guidance for programming the nuances of the operation into said actuators for the specific driving situation being simulated at the time.
[0033] In summary, the main actuation of the vehicle simulator control station is arranged to suit the specific control needs of the actual vehicle, using geometry to configure the vehicle simulator for the control motion range required for operation, and the support frame activated to suit the macro and micro movement of the vehicle. In the case of the prototype embodiment, 'bounce' cylinders are used in the rearmost corners to simulate things like pot-holes, road surface judder and vehicle 'hits' to kerbs / solid objects. Eccentric mass motor/s are also used near the driver's seat to simulate vehicle and engine vibration. In a marine application, the 'swell' of the sea may be simulated via a cyclic operation of two or more bounce cylinders, or by use of cam style actuators that may be additional or replace the bounce capability. Suspending the frame from a fixed rod, chain, or wire rope system would achieve a sway motion simulation for other vehicle types, with the selected support style depending on the harshness of movement required for the main control motions and the extent to which one motion may affect another. In the simulated vehicle, it is important to ensure appropriate rigidity of the various elements to avoid unintentional dependencies or effects.
[0034] A primary ability of this invention is to significantly increase the range of movement through which a human can be exposed to in a simulated environment. The prototype embodiment has movement ranges that are consistent with the forces a performance sports sedan may place on the body. Whilst it was easily possible, further range to simulate an actual accident was not included due to the trade-off between the desire to incite 'a heightened sense of awareness' and protecting the occupant from injury, which no amount of padding would guarantee. If a later assessment finds injury tolerance is an acceptable risk / pre-requisite for the vehicle simulator to get best learning outcomes, such capacity (and liability exemption forms!) may be included.
[0035] Should simulation of the vehicle of interest require more range of movement, it is a simple matter to arrange the geometry to suit, using the principles demonstrated by the prototype. In a vehicle where a hang-upside-down situation would be a normal operational mode (e.g. some flight situations), this is simple to implement using this invention. If it were not needed to fully rotate, then rotary actuators would be used for the rotational direction desired and cabling, complete with removable flexible cable loops, arranged to suit. If continuous rotation ability was required, then the rotation would be motorised and a counterbalance added, which would allow forces greater than lg to be developed. The occupant orientation would need to suit the direction of rotation (easily done for tilt on the prototype but this represents an end for end motion so better to rotate the operational cabin 90 degrees clockwise) and proprietary multi-channel slip rings, wireless streaming and/or digital wiring systems used to transfer signals to / from the control station. In summary, this invention is entirely capable of simulating a 'Red-Baron' adrenaline junkie flight, either as pilot or passenger.
[0036] This invention is primarily intended for a single human controller situation, but dual control situations are also contemplated as embodiments where one person has a primary control responsibility and the persons may have alternate, complementary, shared or no control
responsibilities. Example situations of where this may be applicable include, but are not limited to, a driver - navigator relationship; a teacher - student situation; or a pilot - co-pilot situation. In the circumstances that the person controlling the physical movement has sole control over the motion, but would not be able to do so properly / as intended without the input of the other person, a master- slave relationship would be established between two vehicle simulator modules, each having the requisite control stations, but the motion of the master simulator is duplicated on the slave without any motion related operational input at the slave station.
[0037] A further situation of simulation of dual control is that if, on the actual vehicle, the control stations are physically separated but physical control may reside with either or both stations at any time under set or other protocols, two vehicle simulator modules would be 'twinned' such that control passes between them in the same way as the real vehicle, but the station controlling the motion in the moment acts as master to the other unit as a slave.
[0038] A further situation of simulation of dual control is that if, on the actual vehicle, the control stations are physically together via a dual occupant single cab situation, two embodiments are envisaged. In one embodiment, the two control stations are located on separate vehicle simulator modules and the presence of the other person is simulated using one of the many available methods to do this, be it a constructed artificial representation or the preferred method of an in-cabin camera/s providing augmented reality images of the actual person doing exactly what they are doing at the specific moment.
[0039] In an alternate embodiment of a dual occupant single cab situation, where the vehicle motion may be relatively gentle in one axis, the vehicle simulator geometry would be set up to put the point of rotation about that axis to be in the geometric centre of the two people and both occupy the same vehicle simulator module cabin. For example, if an experienced driver is a passenger in a simulated automobile vehicle driven by a student, and the intent is the experienced driver coach the trainee through simulated situations arising, it is unlikely the vehicle will be turning sharply.
Rotating the vehicle for turn about the centre console would be limited to empirically determined limits for rate and absolute angle, so is unlikely to incurring increased simulator sickness or injury from the 'throwing' of the occupants due to the off-centre motion of the vehicle simulator module. This embodiment would be applicable for both single and dual control situations.
[0040] In a further embodiment, in a 'moving operator' situation where the human controller may change positions while controlling the vehicle, and where such changed position involves them remaining in the immediate vicinity of their control station, the geometrical centre of the vehicle simulator module would be automatically adjustable to match the operator's position via any one of many practical means to achieve this; e.g. mounting the relevant bearing assembly/s on a slide/s which is repositioned according to proximity or other sensors in the cabin. An example is that a person may choose to stand, or spin around in their seat to view / adjust other controls located behind / near them.
[0041] For the 'moving operator' situation a further embodiment would be to lock the motion/s the operator just moved off centre of, such that the vehicle simulator module could only operate at a much-reduced rate and/or range, or such other restriction / modification as was appropriate to the human controller's changed / current physical status.
[0042] For added realism, embodiments may be configured with 'niceties' such as a succinctly located variable speed and/or variable direction fan, with intensity related to how far the window is wound down. A heating element may be included to simulate a hot day. It is also envisaged that the air conditioning function may be optionally retained, with a direct drive motor added to the pump unit for this purpose.
[0043] For added impact special effects may be added to a vehicle simulator module, which may comprise rapidly pulse / gently direct warm / cool air at the human participant, sudden sharp or comforting vibrations, or pleasant or unpleasant noises. These effects may be utilised to reinforce training lessons (e.g. heightened 'fear factor' after an important error) or to enhance feelings of goodwill or success to reward good behaviour, or simply provide the more pleasant or otherwise experience for reasons related to other objectives.
[0044] When it comes to reviewing how a person has completed a particular exercise there are many methods by which this may occur. Some will be incorporated within the software used to provide the training exercises and some the completion of a specific task will be the indicator. However this invention includes an additional method via datalogging the results of multiple recognised competent experienced drivers and mapping the results the trainee achieved against the loci of the results from the competent drivers. Then the variation between the results the trainee achieved could easily be compared to the mean and standard deviation of the competent drivers for each representative segment of the exercise broken up into short time intervals, providing a clear indication how much of the time the trainee was inside the bounds of what the competent drivers and how much not. Integrating the difference (ie area under the curve where the trainee was outside the competent drivers) would be a simple way to give an overall score.
Advantageous Effects of Invention
[0045] The current invention can be applied to almost any vehicle type for training and / or pleasure purposes, and can provide enhanced individual or multi-person immersive realism experiences that go well beyond anything that has previously been economically possible.
[0046] In the context of road toll reduction, the significant lasting effects on the people utilising this invention will not only enrich their own lives, but the societies within which they live once the scale of the invention has reached full penetration of the population, thus reducing the pain and financial burden placed on the society as the desired changed behaviours become real.
[0047] The visceral high impact nature of the invention is such that it is likely to become a catalyst for social change that goes well beyond what it directly teaches. Once enough people have learned and processed the core lessons, a grounds well of what is and isn't acceptable will emerge in the population and a new behavioural culture will manifest which will self-regulate as new norms become the status quo, both for expected norms and the policing thereof. Perhaps more the domain of a PhD than a patent, but nevertheless this is an expected advantageous effect and is very much one that underpins the development of the invention in the first place as it relates to the road toll, although this effect will carry through to other areas.
[0048] Familiarity driving in other countries, vehicle types, physical locations, or situations in a safe non-threatening but highly realistic environment that will greatly reduce the concerns people may have doing this for the first time, as well as a much-reduced frequency of problems arising.
[0049] Training in physical and mental ability to control many different vehicle types and the ability to economically engage in staged relevant training to an elite level.
[0050] This invention provides a society's lawmakers with the tools for evaluation and / or remedial training and ultimately to withdraw the right from people to drive in a way that will be respected by the societies they serve. [0051] The imagination only limits entertainment related uses of this invention. In a non- or low- participative way, people will be able to do such things as ride jet boats or hang gliders in beautiful places, take a rickshaw, or a rocket, to out of the way places, surf monster ocean reef waves in a moonscape, or engage in any manner of other fantasy / simulated real situation. And hook up with their friends (or strangers) in other simulator modules having the same experience, if they so choose. Or just do some familiarisation / desensitising prior to actual vehicle travel.
[0052] Taking the entertainment concept a step further, competition / multi-player experiences related to vehicles will be so realistic that they will provide an alternate elite competitive ground for software houses that already have significant online racing software deployed.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
[0053] The drawings describe a fully functional proof-of-concept prototype that demonstrates one embodiment, illustrating how to apply the underlying principles of this invention.
[0054] List of Drawings
Figure 1: Proof-of-Concept Prototype Side Elevation View
Figure 2: Proof-of-Concept Prototype Rear Elevation View
Figure 3: Proof-of-Concept Prototype Plan View including Sub-Assembly Mass Estimates Figure 4: Proof-of-Concept Prototype Main Support Arm Plan, Elevation & End Elev Views Figure 5: Proof-of-Concept Prototype Side Elevation View Showing Range of 'tilt' motion Figure 6: Proof-of-Concept Prototype Rear Elevation View Showing Range of 'turn' motion Figure 7: Prototype Side Elevation of Modifications Required for Rotation About Subject's Head Figure 8: Prototype Rear Elevation of Modifications Required for Rotation About Subject's Head Figure 9: Proof-of-Concept Prototype Hydraulic Schematic
Figure 10: Proof-of-Concept Prototype Under Construction - View from Rear Right
Figure 11 : Proof-of-Concept Prototype Under Construction - View from Rear Left
Figure 12: Proof-of-Concept Prototype Under Construction - View of Bounce Cylinder
Figure 13: Alternate Embodiment of Prototype Embodiment - Side and Rear Elev
Figure 14: Alternate Embodiment of Prototype Embodiment - Motion Range
Figure 15: Abstract Drawing, combining a simplified version of Figures 1, 2 and 13
[0055] Drawing Items Key
This Key relates to the provided drawings of the as-constructed proof of concept prototype:
(1) = Salvaged donor vehicle control cabin (2014 Mazda 2 Hatchback)
(2) = Control cabin support platform structure assembly
(3) = Moving structure main support arm assembly
(4) = Base support structure assembly
(5) = 'Tilt' function (acceleration / braking) bearing location /assembly
(6) = 'Turn' function bearing location / assembly
(7) = 'Bounce' function bearing location /assembly
(8) = 'Tilt' function actuating cylinder
(9) = 'Turn' function actuating cylinder
(10) = 'Bounce' function actuating cylinder
(11) = 'Vibration' function actuating assembly location
(12) = Temporary wheel portability system
(13) = Safe working temporary independent support system
(14) = Portable hydraulic power pack
(15) = Hydraulic control valves
(16) = (Optional) 'Lateral' motion cylinder
(17) = (Optional) Ball type support / transfer bearing
(18) = (Optional) steel base to suit ball support bearings
DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS
[0056] The scope for embodiments of the current invention is quite wide, as would be expected to suit the various vehicle types contemplated, and the wide range of ride and movement
characteristics of the potential simulated vehicles. There is also considerable scope to apply well understood structural, mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and system engineering principals to optimise relevant aspects of the many possible embodiments. The principle goal of the current invention is to deliver effective training. A secondary goal is to deliver it at a very attractive price point. There is considerable latitude in this secondary objective so some embodiments that will contribute to the first goal at the expense of the second may ultimately be proven to be preferred embodiments.
[0057] To make it clear what the general principles of the invention are, a proof-of-concept prototype has been constructed and is described and illustrated herein. Other embodiments are also described herein, and the existence of a prototype of one embodiment does not exclude or lessen the relevance of other embodiments described.
[0058] A core aspect of this invention is that the vehicle simulator module hardware is configured such that it mechanically, via geometry, creates a situation where the movement of the vehicle simulator is generally about a desired centre of rotation on the human vehicle controller / occupant, nominally the centre of mass of a human body. This both enhances the perception of reality immersion for the operator and reduces the likelihood of them suffering from simulator sickness. Because the science is not yet clear around all aspects of simulator sickness, the prototype has been initially constructed with the centre of rotation around the subject's belly button, being their notional seated centroid of mass, determined from the inventor's assessment of the published information. But the prototype has been configured to be readily modified to rotate about a higher position on the body, e.g. the head, or steering wheel.
[0059] The prototype is fully constructed from regular steel sections with the emphasis on making a development platform that can serve many purposes. Construction of a production model may be of lightweight materials to suit low pressure hydraulics, pneumatic or electro-linear actuators, or a combination of any or all motion inducement / force application systems, including resonant energy / force amplification systems.
[0060] Auxiliary suspension systems may be used to change the character of movement to better suit the simulated vehicle, and these may include guy wires from above and / or the sides using fixed and/or moving frame elements that may also contain spring and / or damping elements. [0061] The visual display to vehicle simulator module occupants will be via commercially available 3D virtualisation headset technology such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or others, augmented reality glasses (currently under development), or one of the many LCD or other types of visual display units or projectors to project a 3D image with active shutter glasses used to view the images. For headset style image presentation, a head mounted camera will optionally be utilised to provide an augmented reality view that shows the vehicle the person is in and their own hands and body within it, either via using green-screening techniques or display area mapping within the software, or other commercially available technique. Development of this equipment continues at a furious pace and already wider field of view higher resolution wireless Virtual Reality headsets are being demonstrated and curved screen displays are on the way, both at headset level and large scale. These developments will only serve to deepen the already exceptional immersion levels that the current invention makes possible.
[0062] The audio stream to vehicle simulator module occupants will be via commercially available headphone hardware, either as it comes with a 3D headset or a separately available multidimensional audio presence unit.
[0063] The prototype demonstrates how this invention is configured to be either a fixed multi- module system or a mobile system that can be relocated, possibly with motion rate limitations if it was not to be secured to the floor.
[0064] This invention needs to be constructed to relevant standards that includes compliance with amusement park ride standards for construction and operation.
[0065] The prototype has been nominally designed for a driver not to exceed 120kg. Larger drivers could be readily accommodated using normal engineering principles, but the initial aim was to be able to service 95% of the population, which the prototype does.
[0066] The prototype frame is constructed from standard steel parallel flange channel, angle and flat bar sections as outlined in the drawings. All joins are fully welded both sides and often all round, generally with at least an 8mm fillet weld. All motion bearings are NTN UCP212 assemblies running on 60mm K1040 shafts that were pre-heated and welded into position. All cylinders are an agricultural style manufactured by Bailey Hydraulics in USA. Bounce cylinders are restrained with Stauff heavy duty polypropylene 60.3mm weld base clamps (P/N SPAL6060.3PPDPALAS). Grade 8.8 bolts used throughout.
[0067] The prototype vehicle control cabin is bolted to the support platform at the original front sub-frame support points at the front. At the rear, it is bolted in two places through a transverse chassis stiffening member, complete with 50mm square washer packing pieces so the member is not crushed. Additionally, at the seams running longitudinally under the door frames, support is provided via 40mm angle sections bolted through the seam and to the support platform.
[0068] Control cabin mounting may be via bolts and brackets as per the prototype. An alternate mounting system envisaged is a 'dam and glue bath' adapter frame based system where an adaptor frame is used to connect the cabin to the support platform. The adapter frame has a floor and raised edges all round and is filled with a urethane, epoxy resin or other glue compound and the control cabin is placed in it. When set, the cabin structure is integrally bonded to the adapter base which in turn is clamped to the main support platform structure assembly. This allows for quick change of the cabin for a different type, off-line maintenance of the cabin unit, refreshing the control cabin after a prolonged period of throwing people about and the like.
[0069] Having an adapter frame for the control cabin also allows for cabin orientation to be easily varied, e.g. by 90° to suit a different operational style of vehicle, or any other purpose.
[0070] A feature of the current invention is the modular approach taken to the development to suit the desired population scale implementation under the primary objective. It must be easy for any control station to be fitted to a simulator assembly with the desired motion characteristics. Since it is likely the control cabins are being taken from a multitude of differently designed donor vehicles, a kit style approach is being taken. For example, the brake pedal response must feel realistic. The brake 'kit' involves connecting a fixed resistance element (e.g. a nylon brake hose) to the master cylinder discharge complete with a pressure transducer. For the prototype, using the vehicle's sensor is practical but for routine use it is desired to have a known response so only calibration to the pedal effort is needed and baseline monitoring can occur. Clutch pedal is similar to brake. For steering resistance, some vehicles can have their electric power assist system simply modified to generate the desired resistance and others need an add on module such as a spring or weight centred magnetic variable clutch that varies resistance according to a speed dependent control input.
Gearsticks for automatic vehicles can easily take the cable or linkage output of an existing shifter to an interface module that includes the necessary ball indents to get the right 'feel' . Manual gearbox shifters have been avoided in the initial prototype construction as 'unnecessary complication' and new vehicle sales with manual transmission are a miniscule fraction of what they once were. If a purpose designed interface module is problematic they will be dealt with by installing a proprietary gaming console driving unit suitably modified to match the vehicle it is installed in.
[0071] A lot of the donor vehicle control cabin instrumentation and switchgear is being utilised for interfacing with the prototype's control and display software. The vehicle's ecu is the preferred method to achieve this which requires retention of the main wiring harness and setting up an interface board so all the 'phantom sensors' are providing good-health signals back to the ecu, and it will give permission to use the system as desired for most realistic results. There is a point of diminishing return on effort for this as the important interfaces must cover key things the human controller needs to / may do that matter, not to have every little thing working. However, for example, being able to turn on ABS lights or other warnings is important as a means to distract / inform drivers something is going on.
[0072] A key understanding point for this invention is that what comes FIRST is the simulator responds to the operator' s input directly, not by a more conventional approach of sending the operator's input to a high level computer that then decides what to tell the hardware to do, and is a major software project to do this. Once the simulator is being properly controlled by the human and it moves when and how much, and in the characteristic way it is told to, then the computer can get involved and add things like bounce or vibration, or provide control variation input if that is appropriate. The technical hurdle is to ensure that a person turning a little bit left and wanting to turn a little more, or less, or add a bit more, or less, braking or acceleration, is actually asking a cylinder to stop going one way and go the other, and then back again in an instant if the operator changes the input again. This must happen extremely smoothly, which would not occur with standard directional control valves. This problem is solved by using proportional control valves such as those shown on the prototype's hydraulic schematic (Figure 9).
[0073] The proportional control valves take input from linear position transducers (variable resistors) located adjacent to the cylinders, a rotary encoder fitted to the steering system, a pressure transducer on the brakes and a variable resistor accelerator and compares the status to operator requested input and produces the requisite hydraulic fluid flows to get the required movement and keep the equipment in the state the operator requires it. In practice, these signals are not directly compatible, so a low level interpretive device is required - typically referred to as a PLC
(Programmed Logic Circuit).
[0074] The way to get the simulator to be directly controlled by the human is to use a low-level oversight PLC system to take sensor input as to the simulator's present state and compare them to operator's requirements and act accordingly. Various systems exist to do this, including commercial PLC systems available from major hydraulic companies. However, one goal of the current invention is to deliver at the lowest possible cost, so a bespoke system using an economical Arduino control module as the base is utilised. Raspberry Pi was an alternate but the additional capability available was not warranted to achieve the direct human control required. [0075] The proportional valves need a 0-lOV signal input to then provide the desired response. The signal represents the extension of the relevant cylinder and they use the variable resistor input to compare where it is to where it needs to be and make the adjustment. For steering, in one mode the Arduino takes the absolute position of the steering wheel as the direct feed to the proportional valve. In another, the Arduino also adds a speed component according to a signal from the main computer (which the Arduino also sends a signal to the vehicle speedometer to display the value). The response to the speed signal is in accordance with actual responses measured from a real vehicle at similar speed and steering angles. The Arduino will compare the steering input and vehicle speed which, if it is outside defined values, will also trigger other outputs to provide a harshness response via bounce cylinder operation and audial cues for traction loss. If the computer is not sending a speed signal, the signal provided to the valves is zero, just like a real vehicle.
[0076] For the brake and acceleration response the Arduino will send a signal to the proportional valve that directly reflects the input for the respective controller. Before providing the tilt control signal, the Arduino will first subtract the average tilt effects of the current position of the bounce cylinders, as determined by inclinometers on the main frame near each cylinder - this creates a self- levelling response such that the bounce cylinders do not also tilt the occupant. In the event that both brake and accelerator pedals are pressed simultaneously, the Arduino will produce an output that reflects the relative strength of the two counteracting inputs to determine the average tilt response, and provide that as a control signal. However, depending on the magnitude of the opposing inputs, an amount of 'flutter' is added to the control signal to indicate an appropriate 'distressed' response from this operational condition.
[0077] The bounce cylinders are normally at rest then a 'normal' bounce will be to drive a cylinder up against a flow control valve (which can be set differently for the closer and further cylinder), then drive it back down against another flow control valve and, just before it gets to the bottom, the cyl hits a limit switch so the valve goes to neutral and the unit falls the rest of the way against the same flow control valve, thus creating a cushion effect. The valves on the prototype can be cycled at 4Hz, so a lot of creative effects can be produced to suit the desired 'terrain type' response.
Adding solenoid switched throttling valves, or changing the spools so a mid-position is normal with different up / down responses, are all the domain of normal hydraulic engineering practices to simulate terrain effects more closely, as required.
[0078] Once the simulator motion is being properly controlled by direct operator input, the next task is to interface with a PC that is providing the audio-visual information. The way this is done for the prototype is to take a commercially available game controller, being the full driving set complete with pedals, steering wheel, vibrator, gearstick, and peripherals such as horn, lights and the like, and dismantle it. The relevant input components are carefully distributed about the simulator control cabin to take the input feed from the actual controllers, and then wired back to the control module of the game controller, thus retaining a full usb (or other) interface to a PC. Outputs from the PC to the game controller are connected to shields on the Arduino to provide a reference signal for actions such as force feedback, and the Arduino can then trigger attendant responses on the simulator e.g. a variable speed vibrator assembly under the driver's seat.
[0079] The prototype is fitted with an over- abundance of sensors to ensure the exact characteristics of the motion are understood for better matching to the actual vehicle (to the extent that achieving a 'believable' experience requires it). Apart from the same tri-axis accelerometer transducer system used to gather performance data of actual vehicles, is inclinometers mounted to all moving parts, proximity sensors to determine actual absolute position, multiple limits to stop Out of bounds' operation and advise the proximity thereof, as well as cylinder position sensors seat mentioned earlier. Vehicle sensors are also used to ensure operation is as intended, so seat belt interlock must show driver is clipped up and passenger seat must be empty (unless designed otherwise). An emergency stop button is located inside the vehicle cabin and another at the rear of the simulator. This latter stop button in a production scenario will be key operated as a final supervisory check for 'permission to start'.
[0080] The next task is to properly interface with the operating software in a universal way. A head mounted camera is optionally used to show the insides of the vehicle control cabin, including the actual human operator's arms and body (when being looked at), and then to map the video feed of the operating software such that the vehicle windows and rear vision mirrors receive the correct feed. This is done via well understood techniques such as green- screening, view area mapping or others, a discussion of which is beyond the scope of this patent.
[0081] In terms of making the vehicle simulator system achieve its intended purpose, there is a lot of commercially available software designed for training drivers, and much of that is intended to be enhanced via simulator applications. Unsurprisingly, since the current invention was first conceptualised and formally proposed to road safety authorities by the inventor in 1998, the inventor has a lot of strong, well researched views on how to do the training job better. That is the domain of detailed evidence based development of lesson plans, and beyond the scope of this patent. Just to utilise what is available commercially now will get great outcomes for any of the listed objectives, but to take this invention to the next level and develop purpose built software is where the really high quality outcomes will be achieved. [0082] There are several techniques contemplated for evaluation of occupant skills. Setting up test exercises and observe and rate are two conventional ones. What this invention additionally proposes is automated rating regimes comprising for instance a series of recognised competent test drivers completing the specific exercise and the subject is rated across a suite of variables for how close they were to the median point of the test drivers per unit time, how often they were outside the 95% curve (or other limit), etc.; then weighted scores can be condensed across the variables monitored. Exactly what these variables should be will be determined by which ones are most relevant with respect to the required outcomes. Examples might include position on the road, time looking at mirrors, instantaneous speed, max and min cornering velocities, jerkiness, time between
'checkpoints', proximity to other vehicles, repetition variance, and the like. Direct comparisons of the tri-axis vibration and other data of test drivers can also be made with the subject.
[0083] For convenience, three pairs of 600kg rated caster wheels have been bolted to the base frame assembly at each of the three main support points via solid plywood timber blocks. Long bolts are used so no jacking is required to lift or lower the prototype. This allows it to be manually pushed around on a flat smooth floor. When in operation, the landing pads at the support points can be bolted down or clamped to ensure rigidity of the vehicle simulator unit.
[0084] The prototype has two independent means of support to cover all times when a person may be working under it. One is in the form of bolted in place props able to take the full weight of the respective loads. The other is the motion hydraulic cylinders being fitted with dual counterbalance valves to ensure any hose breakage or pressure loss event doesn't result in a sudden uncontrolled movement, but locks the prototype in the then position. If the cylinders are non-functional separate props / securing methods (eg chain block) are used for this safety aspect.
[0085] Achieving mechanical rotation generally about the operator's centre of mass or other desired point using geometry and mechanical elements can be achieved in many practical ways that result in a stable vehicle simulator with high structural integrity, and these are all applications of this invention. For example, another embodiment of the demonstrated prototype could include the tilt bearing assembly (for acceleration / braking motion effect) being placed inside the vehicle cabin immediately adjacent to the driver by moving the passenger seat forward, removing it entirely, or modifying it to allow it to appear similar visually, but have the bearings immediately under the fabric cover. Alternately the tilt bearing assembly could be placed outboard of the driver, in which case the driver would enter via the passenger side or via a longitudinal split in the car whereby the passenger side half car assembly operated as a complete door, or mounting the driver seat on a slide or hoist system. In this embodiment, the motion platform frame would just carry the driver's module and the entire passenger side module would be a tilt / swing open / sliding door assembly / fixed door and slide in driver seat and only required to retain sufficient componentry to complement the driver's view, with enough structural rigidity to function as a door / cab cell.
[0086] Another example of an embodiment achieving mechanical rotation generally about the operator's centre of mass or other point for the demonstrated prototype could include the turn bearing assembly being placed at the front of the vehicle cabin immediately adjacent to the firewall (allowing suitable rotational clearance), or alternately on a cantilevered turret that positions the bearing assembly immediately behind the driver's seat. These embodiments are examples of structural optimisation of the demonstrated prototype design, noting that only the turret embodiment would be suitable for a point of rotation above the windscreen level.
[0087] Another example of an embodiment achieving mechanical rotation generally about the operator's centre of mass or other point is to use a gimbal bearings style of support. This would allow for great efficiencies in structural design and would be configured such that the gimbal cage partially hinges open to allow access, and clamps shut with the driver in place. Alternately the driver seat assembly could be raised / lowered into the gimbal cage and clamped in position.
[0088] Another example of an embodiment achieving mechanical rotation generally about the operator's centre of mass or other point is to use a hubless 'rolling race' style of support, generally as per the gimbal bearing style but with less surrounding structure. In a rolling race style, there is an outer ring hub that is directly supported across a short distance by bearings and this hub is directly connected to the operator station. That hub assembly is mounted in another hub supported in the same way but at 90 degrees. For stability, these may be dual hubs for either or both motions. They may extend to provide full 360-degree rotation, or may travel a lesser amount. The advantage of this embodiment, considering the prototype design, is that the requisite movement can be achieved with a much less intrusive structure as all that is required is two pairs of 70 degree arcs upon which the operator cabin rotates. Refer to drawing Figures 13 and 14 for an illustration of this concept, being a duplication of the capabilities of the prototype but using a different embodiment to lock the geometry in and achieve the set rotational centre. Note that it is only necessary to change the radius of the two universal column segments to change the geometry and move the centre of rotation to any desired point. Please note the drawings are not technically correct in the views as in some places they are a slice through the more interesting bits purely to illustrate this embodiment's concept.
[0089] Once the prototype has fully proven all the ancillary aspects of getting the desired outcomes, it is envisaged the 'rolling race' style of embodiment will be the best form as it is cheaper and lighter and inherently safer (as it can't possibly fall). Whether rotary actuators or cylinders or a chain pull system or other method are used to activate it will soon be resolved by normal engineering processes. Exactly what rolling elements and mating surfaces are to be used will be determined via trials of differing options to ensure a long wearing low noise system is utilised. What is illustrated in the concept drawings is discrete bearing elements rolling on pre-formed universal column sections. A stainless steel flat bar with urethane backing used with cam followers, or nylon wheels, are typical methods to solve this technical problem. There are many other styles of devices available that may be employed for actuating this design, including pinion driven slew gears, continuous linear bearings, air bearings, mag-lev induction plate drives, driven wheels, and winches. Other refinements may be required with this embodiment; e.g. the payload mass is now a much larger proportion of moved mass, so low friction hydraulic cylinders may be needed for crispness of response. This and similar are the domain of normal engineering practices.
[0090] In another embodiment, the T-pattern base assembly of the prototype embodiment could be constructed as various other base assembly patterns comprising H, triangle, square, circular, rectangular, diamond, pentagonal, polygonal or some combination thereof (eg double rectangle, square plus triangle) and including 'bounce' cylinders at some or all vertices and/or located around the periphery. These alternate designs would be used primarily to achieve the desired motion for the vehicle type under consideration in a structurally efficient manner but could equally be for purposes comprising enhancing the ride for 'special effects' or to simulate unusual vehicle types or for entertainment.
[0091] The use of 'bounce' cylinders in the prototype embodiment is one form of inducing macro and micro effect movement. Other embodiments could comprise equipment such as air bellows, pneumatic cylinders, lifting bags, electro-linear actuators, rotary actuators, motorised chain systems or other such methods of imparting representative motion characteristic of the vehicle being simulated.
[0092] The vehicle simulator module frame of the prototype embodiment as demonstrated is supported from the floor. In another embodiment, the vehicle simulator frame could be suspended flexibly or rigidly from a frame above. There are many potential purposes for this embodiment comprising imparting representative motion characteristic of the vehicle being simulated, structural efficiency, utilising available infrastructure and maximising use of available space.
[0093] In some applications it may be useful to add a lateral translation motion to accentuate the effect, eg as a conventional 6DOF motion platform can initially (for a very short distance!) move horizontally to give an initial jarring sensation of acceleration (or braking). It is a simple matter to add a moving base to any of the proposed embodiments such that the simulator assembly translates in any desired direction, for a distance only limited by the activation mechanism selected. In Figure 13 is shown an embodiment supported by transfer ball bearings (having a rating of 2t each) and activated by hydraulic cylinders. Many conventional alternate mechanical solutions could achieve the same result, such as wheels and rails; the wheels could be driven or the assembly activated by other conventional means. A preferred embodiment of adding the lateral freedom of movement is a large plenum, hovercraft style. This has the advantage of improved chassis stiffness for mounting vehicle frame supports, plus an absorptive cushioning edge element can prevent vibration transmission when the simulator is 'at rest'.
Examples
[0094] The fully functional proof-of-concept prototype embodiment, or the hubless 'rolling race' refinement of this embodiment (Figure 13), is the inventor's preferred embodiment as it goes to the heart of the core reason for inventing this vehicle simulation system in the first place, namely to reduce the road toll and related carnage and for general vehicle driver training purposes.
[0095] However, because of the multiple prospective applications of this invention, a preferred embodiment for a different 'strand' is more about a twinning of physical and relevant VR technologies to provide an elite gaming and entertainment platform. This would be a 'blinged up' version, having more comfort, intrigue, operational capability / modes, and adjustability features.
Industrial Applicability
[0096] The ability to cost effectively provide a highly realistic immersive simulator training system will have enormous appeal. There are many that clamour for exactly this capability in existing automotive vehicle licence training systems now, so it is likely the fact that one has been invented will ensure rapid uptake across this sector. It would be used for purposes comprising initial driver training, ongoing training, competency evaluation, remedial training, elderly licence continuity, and potentially 'shock and awe therapy' (for repeat offenders / 'at risk' individuals).
[0097] There is a strong desire to have affordable operator training systems that are effective. Currently expensive simulators fill these needs, with high access costs and significant ongoing software development costs. With the current invention able to directly utilise public domain software, it will become highly attractive for companies with special operator training needs to develop their own tweaks for use with this vehicle simulator system, including providing their own control station if they require. [0098] Entertainment industries are always looking for more 'wow' factor, and it is highly likely this invention will be seen as a cost-effective way to provide it in the many ways that could occur. Some are mentioned elsewhere in this document but there is a lot more potential in this area.
[0099] The pathway into motorsports is expensive and slow. For many, this invention would allow people to hone their skills in a recognised training device and pre-qualify them for consideration by motorsports teams for engagement / development.
[0100] Training drivers of public passenger and emergency vehicle drivers is expensive and slow. Whether it be for omnibus, train or ferry drivers, police, fire, ambulance or other emergency vehicle drivers, or taxis, hire cars and the like, this invention could remove the main costs and risks of doing this in conventional ways.
CITATION LIST
Patent Literature
[0101] The following list, in no particular order, includes documents dealing with the subject in an important way. There are many others that deal with it in SOME way, not included below. None of the below have important components that inform the inventive features of the current invention. Note comments below are not complete as time did not allow a second pass through to complete this section. However, all patents cited were examined and concluded not to inform the current patent in any consequential way, or at all.
[0102] AIJ2007.i00585 and AU20i0i00409. Ά Vehicle Driving Simulator' - a commendable effort that was low on outcome related substance and primitive in execution.
[0103] AU2013327398 'Driver training system and method' - one way to implement a proper driver training regime in the physical world. It is a prime example of why the current invention exists, illustrating just how hard it is to do an effective job of training humans in the real world.
[0104] AU2016100998 'Driver Training System' - another credible effort to get proper oversight of physical real world driver training that again highlights all the problems of trying to be effective in training in an uncontrolled environment.
[0105] CNJOJ 558435 'Driving simulator' - a beautiful example of a complicated way to partially achieve what the current invention achieves in a simple manner.
[0106] US6431872 'Drive simulation apparatus' - an excellent example of a conventional style motion platform based simulator system.
[0107] WO20j:6i34389 'Car simulator with rear-projection on transparent curved screen' - a semi-fixed driving simulator system (that seems to claim equipment already on market!)
[0108] GB2535624 'Driving simulator and method of use' - a specialised virtual only system.
[0109] WO2014198861 'Self-propelled, highly dynamic driving simulator' - a novel and optimistic concept that attempts to achieve a relatively low level of simulated realism.
[0110] US20030Q2.7i04 'Driving simulator' - a lovely example of the extent some will go to solve the problems, but all this otherwise commendable effort does is create more.
[0111] CN103854533 'Driving simulation method and system' - a description of a simulator control system for the specific simulator hardware described. [0112] US928969 'Motion platform for a simulation device' - a complex method to achieve much better motion platform movement range; this is a seriously high-end simulator.
[0113] US 7033177 B2 'Motion Simulator' - includes a great description of the issues with a conventional approach and provides a complex method to somewhat improve on it.
[0114] US6Q53815 'Game Device And Method For Realistic Vehicle Simulation In Multiple Dimensions' - another variation on the conventional platform theme.
[0115] J PnoSJ HH?.; - A ; 'simulated driving test device' - one of the earliest to recognise that centre of rotation was important, but provides a very complicated way to get a partial solution.
[0116] US 20070269771 A l 'Vehicle simulator with multiple degrees of freedom of motion' - depicting an alternate quite complex method to achieve better platform motion movement range.
[0117] I S 2v \ 100766-18 'Simulation system' - the 'big boys and their toys' version.
[0118] U S 20120009547 'Truck driving simulator and training method' - a credible effort to concentrate on teaching using an uncomplicated low immersion simulator.
[0119] US 20080268404 'Novel Aircraft Training Platform and Related Method of Operation' - what happens when smart people try to overcome conventional platform range, good effort!
[0120] US 9289693 'Motion platform for a simulation device' - yet another complex method to achieve better platform motion movement range.
[0121] US 201.50323414 'Test device' - uses magnets trying to improve conventional platform.
[0122] WO.2013178828A1 'Motion Simulator' - partially improve conventional platform range.
[0123] ¾' 0 ϋ 1 ή08: ν< Λ 1 'Simulation device with motion stabilization' - a way to get the conventional motion platform to work a little bit better.
[0124] WQ2016142268A1 'Flight simulator and method for flight simulation' - another complex method to achieve better platform motion movement range.
[0125] US 20140087334 'Device for spatially moving persons' - Wow, a really complicated way to do what a robot arm does ....
[0126] ΓΚ ':Qi K s l 6 ':83 'Motion platform video game racing and flight simulator' - a low range economical way of doing most of what a conventional motion platform does. [0127] US.2()1S003C}999 'Motion simulator' - a quality low cost, low immersion solution to provide much better range of motion than a more conventional approach.
[0128] US 9259657 'Motion simulation system and associated methods' - wow again, a whole deck of people being moved via a beautiful upscaling of a conventional motion platform.
[0129] US 20070136041 'Vehicle operations simulator with augmented reality' - a rudimentary 6DOF solution of the conventional kind. Seems to be the one others have 'copied'?
[0130] WO/2018/011110 Ά DRIVING SIMULATOR PLATFORM AND
A DRIVING SIMULATOR' - a more compact version of an earlier design, well inferior in outcomes to the current invention; may have a later priority date.
[0131] EP3243055 'METHOD FOR OPERATING A DRIVING SIMULATOR' - looks interesting, but doesn't achieve as good outcomes in any aspect as the current invention.
[0132] CN206411909 'Improved generation automobile driving simulator' - control system only.
[0133] CN206363573 'Automobile driving simulator' - a control system only.
[0134] CN206363575 'Rogallo flight VR simulator' - hang gliders only, and quite different.
[0135] CN206115769 'Automobile driving simulator' - an interesting electro-mechanical solution of a completely different kind to the current invention.
[0136] CN 106558260 Multipurpose type VR driving cabin' - as above.
[0137] CN106548697 'Real-scene car simulator and realization method thereof - a software embellishment.
[0138] CN 106530889 'General type VR cockpit gear device' - flat gear driven base system.
[0139] CN 1.06409060 'Automobile driving simulator' - a combination game controller and manually activated tilting base.
[0140] WO/2017/014671 'VIRTUAL REALITY DRIVING SIMULATOR WITH ADDED REAL OBJECTS' - VR + stationary console system
[0141] CN106128208 'Research type automobile driving simulator capable of rotating cabin' - primitive mechanical system with good visuals.
[0142] CN105999696 'Driving simulator' - a control system. [0143] CN106023712 'Simulator platform capable of rotating unlimitedly' - a variation on a 6DOF base.
[0144] CN106023713 'Vehicle driving simulator capable of making turn or turning around continuously - a variation on a 6DOF base.
[0145] CN105894888 'Wheel coupling turning follow-up three degree of
freedom automobile motion simulator' - variation of a conventional motion platform.
[0146] CN 105869472 'Automobile driving simulator' - a control system.
[0147] EP3017439 'REAL TIME CAR DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
[0148] 2016j)01)5333 'Real Time Car Driving Simulator' -
[0149] 204423680 'Driver- training car simulator' -
[0150] WO/2015/003056 'REAL TIME CAR DRIVING SIMULATOR' - [0151] 104050842 'Automobile driving simulation system' -
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[0155] 20140095135 'PORTABLE IN-THE-VEHICLE ROAD SIMULATOR' -
[0156] 2014025963 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
[0157] 103456200 'Automobile driving simulator' -
[0158] 2Q1311424Q 'GROUP TYPE AUTOMOBILE DRIVING SIMULATOR' - [0159] 2013083883 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
[0160] 2013061597 'VEHICULAR DANGEROUS SCENE REPRODUCTION DEVICE' -
[0161] 1020130021974 'VEHICLE SIMULATOR WITH A SELF-DIAGNOSIS FUNCTION CAPABLE OF AUTOMATICALLY PERFORMING A SELF-DIAGNOSIS WHEN
MALFUNCTION IS GENERATED AND A VEHICLE DIAGNOSING METHOD USING THE SAME' - [0162] 2012215780 'DRIVING SIMULATOR
[0163] 102289965 'Vehicle driving simulator with heavy-load wideband response' - interesting 9DOF chair system.
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[0165] 102087801 'System and method for automatic re-centering and force feedback of steering wheel in vehicle driving simulator' -
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[0167] 2011064901 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' - only relates to gear lever.
[0168] 2011064900 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' - only relates to gear lever.
[0169] 2011053628 'AUTOMOBILE SIMULATOR' -an entirely different device that has seat rocking as an outcome, with inferior geometrical movement. But a nice effort.
[0170] 2010256786 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
[0171] 102009000929 'Driving simulator has cockpit with seat for driver and operating element of vehicle, and housing is provided with which driver is screened from optical influences of outer side of driving simulator' -
[0172] 11:842822 'Motion platform video game racing and flight simulator' - [0173] 2010197593 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
[0174] 20100216097 'REALISTIC MECHANIC SIMULATOR FOR SENSATIONS OF VEHICLES IN MOVEMENT' - a beautiful but complicated way of achieving an inferior geometrical outcome.
[0175] .101632110 'Realistic mechanic simulator for sensations of vehicles in movement' - as above.
[0176] 2100286 'REALISTIC MECHANIC SIMULATOR FOR SENSATIONS OF VEHICLES IN MOVEMENT' - as above.
[0177] WO/2008/081406 'REALISTIC MECHANIC SIMULATOR FOR SENSATIONS OF VEHICLES IN MOVEMENT' - as above. [0178] 2010117668 'CAR DRIVING SIMULATOR' - [0179] 2010200564 'Portable in-the-vehicle road simulator - completely different style of solution'
[0180] 2010015108 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
[0181] 101558435 'Driving simulator' -
[0182] 1020090065515 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' - as above.
[0183] 2009002974 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' - as above.
[0184] WO/200 55956 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' - as above.
[0185] WO/20JH 2 89 'MOTION PLATFORM VIDEO GAME RACING AND
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[0186] 2008165080 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
[0187] 02320022 'AUTOMOBILE SIMULATOR' -
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[0189] 1776687 'DRIVING SIMULATOR FOR USE IN READY TO DRIVE OR NON READY TO DRIVE MOTOR VEHICLES' -
[0190] WO/2006/015592 'DRIVING SIMULATOR FOR USE IN READY TO DRIVE OR NON READY TO DRIVE MOTOR VEHICLES' - as above.
[0191] 202004012869 'Motor vehicle driving simulator for use in vehicle ready to drive, has virtual image of arbitrary vehicle transmitted back to real vehicle' - as above.
[0192] 202004012868 'Motor vehicle driving simulator, for use in real vehicle not ready for driving, has virtual image transmitted back to realvehicle from arbitrary vehicle' - as above.
[0193] 2007Q72224 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
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[0195] 20050155441 'Collision accident simulator and collision accident simulation method' - [0196] 2005173317 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
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[0199] 000010211884 'Modular driving simulator with motion system, has sub-module pivotable about a transverse axis at the driver's eye level is provided beneath the mockup to simulate pitching motion' -
[0200] 6592374 'Motion simulator' -
[0201] 2003114607 'VIRTUAL DRIVING SYSTEM' -
[0202] 1020030029361 'DRIVING SIMULATOR CONTROL DEVICE'
[0203] 1020030029360 'DRIVING SIMULATOR SYSTEM' -
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[0205] 200225873 'DRIVE SIMULATOR' -
[0206] 1231582 'Driving simulator' -
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[0208] 2001092343 'VEHICLE DRIVING SIMULATOR DEVICE' - [0209] 2000206865 'DRIVING SIMULATOR' -
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PHYSICAL EFFICIENCY OF MOTOR VEHICLE USERS AS WELL AS THEIR DRIVING CAPABILITIES WITH AND WITHOUT THE HELP OF ADAPTERS AND/OR PROSTHESIS' -
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[0212] The following websites are leading examples of work being done in and around the subject matter field of the current invention. There are others but these ones demonstrate achievement in relevant areas. Whilst the work is good they do not embody any of the main elements of the current invention, but rather illustrate the more conventional pathway simulator technology advancement has been on for some time.
[0213] www,tinyurLcom/h3t9dhy depicting Bosch Rexroth's 6 Degree Of Freedom, 1.5t Motion Base; a conventional high-end simulator motion platform from a leading equipment provider.
[0214] www.immersryetec are a recognised world leader in simulation technology and their body of knowledge exposes at great lengths the benefits of this training, as well as showcases the extremely expensive solutions they have developed.
[0215] www.sirriworxdts.com.au , www.p^
Figure imgf000035_0001
www.atstrainingsystems.com and www.ecagroup.com/en/txai n^^ depicting some simulator systems that are low realism / immersion levels and therefore limited training effectiveness.
[0216] www . ckas . com, au/driver tra ni ng simu iators 43. html depicting a very expensive moving simulator driver training system that is no doubt effective, to the extent it can interface with / develop training software anyway.
[0217] ww jtijTi-CT])¾.roffl demonstrating a prototype VR chair set up on a robotic arm to move the occupant in extreme ways, improving on US 20130108992 and earning it the 'vomit chair' nickname. Someone was always going to do this, and good on them for being the ones !
[0218 ] www .carsim.com/products/index .p p. www.8tisimd.rive.com/products/ and www.3d- driving.com demonstrating some of the public domain simulation software available to operate with various simulation platforms. There are many others.

Claims

A VEHICLE DRIVING SIMULATOR FOR TRAINING OR USE OF AUTOMOTIVE CAR DRIVERS OR MOBILE DEVICES CONTROLLED OR OCCUPIED BY HUMANS CLAIMS The PRELIMINARY claims defining this invention are as follows:
1. A method of training a human to better utilise devices collectively referred to as
"vehicles", being any form of proximate human controlled moving vehicle or device where the human has a degree of responsibility for the movement of the vehicle and an ability to influence vehicle motion and/or be directly affected by it. Said vehicles may be powered or unpowered and may be aided or unaided by technology that may assist, augment, or automate the control of the vehicle motion to any extent and may have a conventional power source or one yet to come into use. Vehicle examples include but are not limited to present forms, or those that are yet to come, of automobile variants such as "sedans", "station wagons", "hatchbacks", "buggies", and
"utilities", motorcycles, motorcycle variants such as "trikes" and quads", go-karts, omnibuses, trucks, semi-trailers, prime-movers, bicycles, personal flight craft (whether propelled by propeller, jet or other means), multi-purpose vehicles, emergency vehicles, disabled driver modified vehicles, hovercraft, flying cars, mobile industrial machinery, lifting and carrying equipment such as cranes and forklifts, mining equipment, farm machinery, earthmoving equipment, rail vehicles, marine craft, sail craft, jet skis, surfboards and variants, amusement park carriages, submarine devices, and personal spacecraft. The method of thi s invention comprises placing a human in a vehicle simulator device that provides an artificial training and/or experiential environment that physically, visually, and aurally simulates the environment the human experiences when in the actual vehicle, exposing the human to various purpose developed situations and / or experiences that may involve passive and/or active input from the human. In providing the physical simulation, said simulator device comprises predominantly separate generation of the 'imaginary' (principal vector) forces being simulated to give the sensation of changing speed, direction or both, and the direct acting 'whole of body' forces being duplicated to give a sensation of surface / other irregularity, engine or other vibration, or other regular, or irregular, disruptive effect that may be experienced whilst operating the vehicle.
2. The method of claim 1 , wherein a human participant assumes the normal operating position at a representati ve facsimile of the applicable vehicle control station and wherein the physical geometry of the simulator device supports said control station and arranges for the physical movement of the human participant/s to be generally rotated about a selected geometrically fixed rotation centre rotation point for the purpose of generating the 'imaginary' forces. A bi-planar geometrically locked centre of rotation point applies to a single human occupant. A multiple occupancy vehicle simulator may utilise a single or bi-planar geometrically locked centre of rotation point, depending on vehicle type and intended operational simulation modes.
3. The method of claim 2 will lower the probability of, time to onset of, or extent of 'simulator sickness' being experienced by the human participant by keeping the loci of the centre of rotation within a relatively small distance from an empirically selected fixed location on the human anatomy. Typically, a geometrically fixed rotational point of the centre of body mass, being the belly button of a seated human, will be utilised. Potentially, for particular vehicle types and motions, the centre of the head or the steering wheel or other device the human participant holds during operation will be a more favourable geometrically fixed rotational point.
4. The method of claim 2, wherein the simulated vehicle with separately generated imaginary and real forces may optionally additionally be mounted on a laterally moving frame such that a component of the whole of body forces can be added in a nominally lateral direction to further enhance the transition to, and sensation of, acceleration, deceleration or turning in the applicable direction.
5. The method of claim 2 further comprising an auxiliary movement capability of the simulator base system to additionally induce movement of the human participant in a way that simulates direct input from surfaces or medium travelled on or through by the simulated vehicle. This comprises common variants of existing equipment to achieve the desired effects, which include but are not limited to disruptions such as potholes in the simulated surface and localised differential speed discontinuities in air / water medium.
6. The method of claim 2, further comprising a capability of the simulator base system to mechanically induce sensations to the human participant in a way that simulates input from the simulated vehicle. This comprises common variants of existing equipment to achieve the desired effects which include but are not limited to motor vibrations, drivetrain behaviours and "edge of control" behaviours.
7. The method of claim 2 wherein the human assumes the normal operating position at a representative facsimile of the applicable vehicle control station and is provided with interactive physical stimulus and audio-visual training material in a way that is directly related to the human's input (or lack thereof).
8. The method of claims 2-7 wherein said control station facsimile is mounted on a physical dynamic vehicle simulator base mechanically caused to move in a way that creates a similar sensation to that experienced by a human when directly controlling or occupying an actual vehicle of the type being simulated. The combined effect being to give a realistic physical sensation that approximates that of driving the actual vehicle being simulated with a very high degree of physical realism.
9. The method of claim 8 wherein said control station facsimile is mounted on a physical dynamic vehicle simulator base mechanically caused to move in a way that creates a similar sensation to that experienced by the human when directly controlling an actual vehicle of the type being simulated in a similar environment. The simulator movement is tuned to closely match signals and data, as measured using accelerometers, data-loggers and other scientific equipment, from representative vehicles during operation for the particular operational mode / surface being utilised by the visuals being presented to the human participant at the time.
10. The method of claim 8 wherein said control station may be mounted in a modular fashion such that it can be removed and replaced with a similar or different control station in the same or an alternate orientation.
1 1. The method of claim 8, wherein said control station facsimile is supported on a frame system, the physi cal geometry of which arranges for the physi cal movement of the human participant to be generally rotated about the centre of their body mass or other selected rotation point when simulating 'imaginary' vector forces comprising turning and acceleration / deceleration motion.
12. The method of claim 8, wherein said control station facsimile is supported on a frame system, the physical geometry of which arranges for the physical movement of the human participant to be generally rotated about a selected geometrically fixed or variable bi-planar rotation centre rotation point.
13. The method of claim 8, wherein said control station facsimile is supported on a frame system, the physical geometry of which arranges for the physical movement of the human participant to be generally rotated about a selected geometrically fixed or variable bi-planar rotation centre rotation point and that said rotation may extend to an arc of 360 degrees in one or both planes.
14. The method of claim 8, wherein said control station facsimile is supported on a frame system, the physical geometry of which arranges for the physical movement of the human participant to be generally rotated about a selected geometrically fixed or variable bi-planar rotation centre rotation point and that said rotation may extend to an arc of 360 degrees in one or both planes and may involve continuous motion imparting centripetal force on the human.
15. The method of claim 8, wherein said control station facsimile is supported on a frame system, the physi cal geometry of which arranges for the physi cal movement of the human participant to be generally rotated about a selected geometrically fixed or variable bi-planar rotation centre rotation point and that said rotation may extend to an arc of 360 degrees in one or both planes and may involve continuous motion imparting forces greater than 1 g on the human.
16. The method of claim 8, wherein said control station facsimile may be comprised of new components, or may be partially or completely constructed by utilising the control station of a representative vehicle that has been removed from active duty due to accident or some other means, but the control station remains sufficiently intact for re-purposing with or without further repair. Said control station may optionally include passenger and / or dual control seating. Said control station may be mounted via a modular frame system such that it can be removed and replaced with a similar or different control station in the same or an alternate orientation.
17. The method of claim 8, wherein the main controls of said control station facsimile are augmented by mechanical or electro-mechanical devices to make them generally feel and act in a similar way to those of an actual vehicle of the type being simulated.
18. The method of claim 8, wherein the aural and visual stimulation is delivered using commercially available hardware and software configured to suit a range of motion sickness susceptibility levels found in the general populace. This may include available Virtual Reality headsets or less immersive augmented reality glasses or more distant visual display units including curved, flexible and sheet screens or projected images.
19. The method of claim 8, wherein the visual stimulation optionally includes an augmented reality feature whereby the human can see themselves in the field of view such that it is evident to them they are operating the vehicle and using the actual controls to do so.
20. The method of claim 8 may comprise a fixed or mobile vehicle simulator system and such fixed or mobile system may comprise one or multiple vehicle simulator modules with identical, similar or different vehicle types represented. Where multiple vehicle simulator modules are utilised the configuration may comprise centralised control and / or oversight and / or sharing of resources including but not limited to a centralised hydraulic fluid power system, common access ways and commonality of compliance to e.g. amusement park ride standards.
21. The method of claim 8, further comprising a capability of the control station to induce physical special effects to reinforce lessons learnt. This comprises common variants of existing equipment to achieve the desired effects which include but are not limited to rapidly / gently directing warm / cool air at the human participant, sudden sharp or comforting vibrations and pleasant or unpleasant noises.
22. The method of claim 8 further comprising delivering purpose developed lesson plans that have been developed as part of this invention taking existing and newly developed knowledge and presenting it in a way to maximise the impact of the lessons learned.
23. The method of claim 8 further comprising putting the human in an artificially contrived environment where the human believes they are in control of a vehicle and that their experience is sufficiently real to affect their then and subsequent behaviours.
24. The method of claim 8 further comprising the provided physical input being simulated in such a realistic way that it creates a visceral reaction to the experience such that the participant learns from the lesson content to make better decisions and becomes better at controlling the vehicle in the desired ways.
25. The method of claim 22 may comprise assessing, evaluating and reporting on the performance of the human being trained.
26. The method of claim 22 and 24 further comprising generating training experiences for a human at a sufficient level of impact and believability to generate desirable lasting behavioural outcomes. These apply to, but are not limited to, the ability to control a vehicle, and training that goes beyond physical vehicle control.
27. The method of claim 25 and 26 further comprising a method of assessing a human's ability to physically and mentally control a vehicle to a required standard and / or identify areas where skills are insufficient and / or faulty by comparing the subject's results to those achieved by one or more recognised competent drivers performing the same or similar tasks.
28. The methods of claims 1 -27 further comprising a method of providing a human with clearly evidenced new and / or current skills in controlling a vehicle.
29. The methods of claims 1-27 further comprising a method of providing a human with clearly evidenced training in other areas such as but not limited to social skills, mental health management, injury / illness rehabilitation, physical related medical conditions and any other skill deficiencies and / or relevant developmental desires.
30. The methods of claims 1-27 further comprising a method of providing human experiences controlling a vehicle that are intended to be fun and / or joyful. Such experiences may be solo or in combination with other participants at a multi-berth or internet linked remote module implementation.
31. The methods of claims 1-27 further comprising a method of assisting a human to correct insufficient and / or faulty physical and / or mental skills in controlling a vehicle.
32. The methods of claims 27 - 31 further comprising a method of training, assessing, assisting and / or remediating a human in relation to control of one or more different vehicle types.
33. The methods of claim 32 further comprising a method of simultaneously training multiple humans on similar or different vehicles.
34. The methods of claim 32 further comprising a method of simultaneously training, assessing, assisting and / or remediating multiple humans in relation to control of one or more different vehicle types.
35. The methods of claim 32 further comprising a method of simultaneously training, assessing, assisting and / or remediating multiple humans in relation to the purpose/s applicable to them.
36. The methods of claims 1-35 describe equipment and systems that can be constructed relatively economically, with simulator sessions being delivered for a fraction of the cost of normal driving lessons.
37. The method of claim 36 provides a societal impetus for change such that proficiency in simulator operation, as detennined against independently set criteria, becomes a fundamental basis on which humans will be permitted to utilise and / or operate the respective vehicle types in which they have demonstrated proficiency.
38. The methods of claim 37 can be applied initially for new license holders and later for existing ones to establish minimum acceptable proficiency levels, and then for regular ongoing refresher and assessment training across a population. Specific modules will be applicable to repeat offenders, and disabled and elderly continuing drivers that are medically cleared for automobile operation, and also for other defined categories / vehicle types.
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