Immersive Virtual Reality Simulation as a Tool for Aging and Driving Research
The aging process is associated with changes to many tasks of daily life for older adults, e.g. driving. This is particularly challenging in rural areas where public transportation is often non-existent. The current study explored how age affects driving ability through use of an immersive virtual reality driving simulator. Participants were required to respond to typical driving events: stopping at an intersection, controlling vehicle speed, and avoiding objects in the road. Results showed that older adult performance was consistently lower than the younger adult group for each driving event, and matched those of real-world accident data. Post-study survey data suggested that all participants were able to easily interact with the driving simulator. Results also demonstrate the efficacy of immersive virtual reality as an effective research tool. Findings from this research will influence the development of compensatory augmentations, or navigational aids, and enrich our understanding of driving and age-related concerns.
KeywordsSpatial cognition Aging Gerontechnology Human computer interaction Virtual reality
We thank everyone at the VEMI lab for their assistance creating the driving simulator. We specifically thank Jonathan Cole for his development of the VR software used during this research. We acknowledge funding support for this project provided by a University of Maine Aging Research and Technology Seed Grant awarded to Dr. Nicholas Giudice and Dr. Richard Corey.
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