DVSA trials VR technology for research

Young woman looking with VR behind the glass

DVSA has begun to test the use of virtual reality (VR) technology in its research on driver behaviour.

It is working with on simulating driver reactions to hazards as part of its efforts to improve safety on the roads.

The project involves the use of a VR platform to track eye movements as part of research into driver hazard perception.

It also uses AI technology to collect and analyse data captured during the trials.

The project has three key goals. The first is to see if immersive tools such as those based on VR could reduce the cost of research into driver behaviour.

The second is to explore the extent to which eye tracking data is an indicator of a driver’s future behaviour as hazards develop; and the third is to understand whether the data could be used to improve driver behaviour.

Alex Fiddes, programme delivery executive for digital services and technology at the DVSA, said: “DVSA is committed to making sure new drivers are better prepared for a lifetime of safe driving. 

“In collaborating with Kainos’ Applied Innovation team it has been exciting to see how new immersive technology, coupled with data analytics and artificial intelligence, could improve DVSA’s understanding of driver behaviour.

“This powerful, scalable and cost-effective research platform will help inform how we might educate and test drivers in the future, helping improve road safety.”

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1 thought on “DVSA trials VR technology for research”

  1. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin DipDE

    I ask all my students how we see. Only one has ever answered correctly. All the rest said with our eyes. Not so. The eye is merely a photo receptor tuned to the visible light spectrum. It is the brain that analyses what the eye sees and makes decisions. If the brain is occupied with other things, the visual message gets pushed down the processing agenda. Having too many windows open on a computer has much the same effect. There is a limit as to how quickly data can be processed and a queue forms, slowing the machine right down.

    So it is with the eye and brain. If the brain is processing other thoughts, better known as distractions, what the eye is seeing gets processed slowly or late. To put this in perspective, watch the following clip.


    The driver starts by looking down the road and in the following 7 seconds looks up three times., the third time being when he reacted to the traffic ahead. He was travelling at 50 mph and took some 2-3 car lengths to recognise the danger and react to it. At 50 mph, one is travelling at roughly 5 car lengths a second, so his reaction times were about right at around 0.5 second.

    The whole point about this video is to conclusively prove that distractions are much, much more than the obvious ringing phone. Stress, anger and a whole range of emotions as well as planning the day ahead or reviewing the day just gone are every bit as dangerous as the more obvious stuff.

    This is where money should be spent, along with bringing drivers up to date with the technology found in even very modest new cars.

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