UVA driving simulator goes virtual to help more people with autism

UVA driving simulator goes virtual to help more people with autism

The next destination for the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s efforts to help people with autism learn to drive: virtual reality. Daniel J. Cox, PhD, a researcher with UVA’s Department of Psychiatry, has been using a room-sized driving simulator to assist people with autism-spectrum disorders in becoming comfortable behind the wheel. But now he is taking his simulator to the next level by turning it into a portable, “mixed-reality” experience. Instead of users having to travel to the simulator in UVA’s Driving Safety Laboratory, the simulation could go home with them in the form of a VR headset, Cox says. That could dramatically expand the simulation’s reach, helping more people learn to drive. “Our simulator is too big, too costly and too sophisticated and complicated to be exported extensively. So now we’ve come up with what they call a ‘mixed-reality, head-mounted display simulator,’” Cox said. “It takes the same road course that we’ve developed … and displays that. But on the goggles what we’ve done is mount two cameras that films the driver’s hands on the steering wheel. It mixes reality with the virtual world, so you can see your hands and feet in this immersive world. It’s […]

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