An immersive Virtual Reality (VR) platform has been developed by the researchers of DAM from 2017 to 2020 in order to test people’s behaviours towards Autonomous Vehicles (AV).
The platform integrates necessary assets such as an urban environment including buildings, walking paths, road infrastructure including single- and multiple- road networks, furniture, car parks, and urban greenery. Simulations for pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, as well as traffic simulations are also implemented in the platform.
The platform is developed for Head-Mounted Displays (HMD) with six degrees of freedom such as the HTC Vive Pro using the game engine Unity 3D.
A range of studies was conducted using the platform such as usability tests with 38 participants to test the effect external communication cues can have on crossing behaviours of participants at zebra crossings who are approached by AVs , . In a further exploratory study, we investigated the impact on showing information related to driving intention and imminent detection of surrounding of public AVs on comfort and anxiety states of passengers .
We were also interested in observing behaviours of participants in VR. We observed authentic behaviours and reactions while being immersed in VR such as attempting a high step when entering a sidewalk or protective gestures when the participants were approached by AVs .
The developed research platform, with its multifaceted environment and integrated simulations, builds a basis for immersive research for observing human behaviour in any traffic situation. While doing so, the platform ensures safety for test participants and offers a time- and cost-saving alternative to on-site experiments. Especially for research on human behaviour towards AVs, the VR platform has the capability to create scenarios that would not be feasible in real-life conditions. Megacities such as Singapore can profit from the VR platform for conducting further research on human interaction towards AVs before legislation and regulation for AVs is passed.
Additionally, the VR research platform offers alternative usage such as for marketing purposes. In order to publicize our work with VR, an immersive Smartphone application has been developed that allows users to experience the exterior and interior of DART in an urban environment.
Danqing Huang Isaac Ng Tatiana Novaes Theoto Yongliang Yap Peisen Xu
 S. Stadler, H. Cornet, T. Novaes Theoto, and F. Frenkler, “A Tool, not a Toy: Using Virtual Reality to Evaluate the Communication between Autonomous Vehicles and Pedestrians,” in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, M. C. tom Dieck and T. H. Jung, Eds. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland AG, 2019.
 S. Stadler, H. Cornet, and F. Frenkler, “Towards User Acceptance of Autonomous Vehicles : A Virtual Reality Study on Human-Machine Interfaces,” Int. J. Technol. Mark., vol. 13, no. 3–4, 2019, doi: 10.1504/IJTMKT.2019.10025612.
 S. Stadler, H. Cornet, D. Huang, and F. Frenkler, “Designing Tomorrow ’ s Human-Machine Interfaces in Autonomous Vehicles : An Exploratory Study in Virtual Reality,” in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, T. H. Jung, M. C. tom Dieck, and P. A. Rauschnabel, Eds. Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland AG, 2020.
 S. Stadler, H. Cornet, and F. Frenkler, “A Study in Virtual Reality on (Non -) Gamers ’ Attitudes and Behaviors,” in Proceedings of the 26th IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces, 2019, doi: 10.1109/VR.2019.8797750.