Although there have been efforts to achieve the zero deaths on horizontal construction projects, undesired crashes within work zones continue to happen, highlighting the need for continuous studies on work zone safety improvements. An advantageous tool to be used in such studies is the Virtual Reality (VR) technology, as it provides a safe and highly realistic environment for performing behavioral experiments without endangering the participants. However, researchers still face the challenge of integrating real-world traffic data and interactions in VR back to simulation environments. This study presents the development of an integrated platform that allows a two-way interface between traffic simulation packages (e.g., SUMO) and VR environments (e.g., Unity 3D). The integrated platform enables both applications to spontaneously interact with each other to represent realistic traffic and work zone conditions in the VR environment. The main contribution of this study is the development of the integrated and immersive platform and its customized API tool, called Traffic Simulation-Virtual Reality Integration (TSVRI). The TSVRI API, which bidirectionally transfers information between simulation and VR in real-time, guarantees that the VR environment represents the dynamic characteristics of the work zone traffic and user interactions are fed back to the simulation model to continuously update the traffic information. The integrated platform was tested in alpha experiments and shown to be effective to reproduce realistic traffic scenarios, scalable to different work zone settings (long-, intermediate-, short-term, or mobile), and is ready to be used in experiments with a higher number of participants with different construction experience.
Publisher: Transportation Research Board
Publication Date: 2021
Source URL: Link to URL
Publication Types: Books, Reports, Papers, and Research Articles
Topics: Traffic Simulation; Virtual Reality; Work Zone Safety; Work Zones