When you take a seat in the 2013 Ford Fusion sitting in Srinivas Peeta’s new lab, you enter a virtual world where researchers can throw anything at you: snow and ice, detours, traffic snarls.
All you have to do is drive, and along the way researchers are going to watch every turn, every acceleration, every choice in an effort to unlock new insights into how people behave behind the wheel — and eventually create a better transportation network for everyone.
“In our cars today, we interact with the dashboard and all the other elements in the vehicle that allow us to control it. We have Bluetooth, music, a GPS system, all providing information in real time,” said Peeta, who is the the Frederick R. Dickerson Chair in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and a leading scholar in understanding drivers’ behavior.
“Creating a realistic driving experience in the lab that includes all of these distractions increases the level of realism, so we can better understand how people interact with new environments.”
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