May 22, 2008 -- A state-of-the-art motorcycle simulator capable of giving us valuable information on rider and road safety, motorcycle design and motorcycle engineering is currently under construction at The University of Nottingham.
The simulator which is the first of its kind in the world will consist of a Triumph motorcycle mounted on a unique rig designed and built at the University. This interactive moving platform will then be linked to driving simulation software that will project different scenarios onto huge screens in front of and behind the motorcycle, recreating a realistic riding experience for the motorcyclist.
This unique system will allow engineers to study aspects of motorcycle ergonomics and rider human factors a relatively new research area. This covers all aspects of motorcycling, from motorcycle design and rider equipment to rider behavior and competence and road safety.
Dr. Alex Stedmon, a lecturer in the School of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering's Centre for Motorcycle Ergonomics and Rider Human Factors, is leading the project. “The simulator offers a unique research tool on a number of levels,” he said. “The motorcycle allows riders to operate controls and lean on the motorcycle as they would in the real world. The software also allows us to model different weather conditions, hazards, traffic and pedestrians so that we have completely interactive scenarios.
“We've taken guidance from bikers about the important factors in developing a simulation of real riding. What we are building is much more sophisticated than current gaming technology provides that allows us to capture data from a rider performance and research perspective.”
By putting the rider into tailor-made scenarios and measuring both their and the motorcycle's performance, the simulator will produce valuable data, both for academics and the motorcycle industry manufacturers and road safety organizations have already shown an enthusiastic interest in the project.
Anything from hazards such as children or animals running out into the road to different light, traffic and weather conditions can be programmed into the simulator, allowing researchers to measure the responses of different riders riding exactly the same scenarios. And real-life environments can be faithfully reproduced, so that riders can take a leisurely tour of Beeston, or give the motorcycle a real test on the racetrack at Donington Park.
The simulator will also feature a rear road view projector, which will be viewable through the motorcycle's mirrors. This provides a more realistic riding experience as well as allowing riders to perform lifesaver checks glances over the shoulder to check the way is safe and clear.
Final year Mechanical Engineering students have designed and built the rig along with and integration software that will be used on the simulator, which is expected to be up and running by June.