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Launch of Virtuocity

General update

On Thursday 13th June, the University of Leeds launched Virtuocity, which provides a world-leading technical platform that leverages research and expertise from across the University, including the Institute for Transport Studies, to lead innovation in the design of urban transport and city systems.

Virtuocity will form a key facility for the University's newly launched Centre for Immersive Technologies, which will harness the power of immersive technologies, to upskill the next generation and push the boundaries of possibilities in research and education.

Unveiled today as part of Virtuocity is the new Highly Immersive Kinematic Experimental Research (HIKER) lab – the largest 4K resolution pedestrian simulator in the world.

The HIKER lab joins the University of Leeds Driving Simulator and Truck Sim in Virtuocity and allows participants to interact with virtual urban environments and vehicles without the need to wear any VR equipment.

Virtuocity’s three simulation laboratories will be connected to create a single “multi-player” environment enabling researchers to address complex questions including how driverless vehicles will interact with their passengers and with pedestrians.

Professor Richard Romano, the University Chair in Driving Simulation and academic lead for Virtuocity, said: “Immersive technologies are already at the heart of a range of University research. As part of the new centre, Virtuocity provides the technology and expertise to explore and test real-world scenarios using human-centred design methods to inform the future of urban mobility, transport and city planning.”

Professor Natasha Merat, the University Chair in Human Factors of Transport Systems, said: “The future of transport is changing rapidly. With the rise of automated transport, such as driverless cars, it is vital that we have the means to safety test how people will interact with the new technology. HIKER is the next step in understanding driver and pedestrian behaviour. This technology combined with the other simulators in Virtuocity allows us to create a safe and controllable environment where we can investigate road user’s interactions with new “and current transport systems and technologies, ensuring we design future cities that are more enjoyable, sustainable and pleasant to live in.”

The simulators in Virtuocity are already integral to a number of projects exploring human factors in transport systems including:

  • interACT: a project in which researchers from the Human Factors & Safety are conducting a series of studies to understand pedestrian road-crossing behaviour with future automated vehicles.
  • HumanDrive: a project that is part of Renault-Nissan Alliance research activities. Leeds scientist will help develop driverless vehicle technologies that can cope with varied UK driving scenarios, ensuring they are more acceptable and comfortable for the user.
  • PSi: This project examined how driving simulators can be useful tools for manufactures to save time and money during new vehicle development.
  • XCYCLE: The Truck SIM was used in this Horizon 2020 funded project to reduce fatal interactions between HGVs and cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Further information

For more information regarding working on projects exploring human factors in transport systems and Virtuocity please contact Richard Romano or Natasha Merat