McLean Care – an Australian regional senior care provider – is developing a virtual reality (VR) simulator in partnership with Deakin University with the aim of creating a safe, low-risk environment for drivers aged 70 – 80. It will allow them to practice driving without being on the road and hopefully be able to maintain their driving licenses for longer. The driving simulator will be composed of the shell of a Holden Captiva with VR technology installed inside. It will be fitted with sensors, which will measure the drivers reaction times and heart rates to assess their physiological responses to certain aspects associated with driving.
The virtual reality environment is being created to reflect the local streets and incorporate local landmarks and major shopping centers to maximize user experience.
“The drivers will come to roundabouts and have to give way. There will be parking near banks and all the large retail outlets of the town. They will also have to physically reverse, stop, put the blinker on and give way,” McLean Care CEO Sue Thomson said.
Ben Horan, Director of the CADET Virtual Reality Laboratory at Deakin University, said, “Virtual reality technologies have matured to the point where we can create realistic training environments. This provides the opportunity to work with McLean Care to fill their identified need for a VR driving simulator, enabling elderly drivers to practice driving in a completely safe virtual environment. It’s exciting partnerships like these that allow us to work together to be innovative and really push the boundaries.”