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Release: Immediate

UI researchers get contract to test driver reaction using anti-lock brakes

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Public Policy Center and the UI College of Engineering Center for Computer-Aided Design (CCAD) have received a 14-month, $241,000 U.S. Department of Transportation contract to evaluate crash avoidance through driver performance and reactions using both conventional and antilock brake systems on the Iowa Driving Simulator.

Daniel McGehee, a transportation safety and human factors expert and the director of human factors research for the Public Policy Center, will direct the project along with co-principal investigator Dr. Peter Grant, a vehicle dynamics expert at the Iowa Driving Simulator.

McGehee said that results from the study will provide information about drivers' unalerted collision avoidance behavior and the degree of success in avoiding crashes during emergency braking and steering situations. The information gained will help researchers assess the extent of the drivers' abilities under these circumstances using both conventional brakes and anti-lock brake systems. The information will also be used to evaluate differences in vehicle stability and control due to the two different braking systems.

The contract was received through the Office of Crash Avoidance, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Iowa Driving Simulator in its present configuration was completed in 1994 at the University of Iowa. Valued at about $13 million, it is one of the most advanced driving simulators in the world. It has a dome that holds a fully functional car cab. The dome sits atop a large hexapod-shaped motion system that moves as drivers maneuver through computer-generated terrain. The roadway and terrain are projected around drivers inside the dome, giving them the feeling that they are part of the environment.

Current IDS research areas include:

· Safety Evaluation and Highway Design - including the study of human factors in crash avoidance;

· Medical Influences on Driving- including studying the driving abilities of people with Alzheimer's disease and those who have had eye surgery; and

· Designing, testing and evaluating new vehicle safety technologies