Are Virtual Reality headsets efficient for remote driving?

Abstract : This study aims to analyze possible benefits of using Virtual Reality (VR) headset display instead of monitor in remote driving. It compares results of a sample of users driving in a simulated environment using VR headset then monitor display. Virtual reality headsets become a source of inspiration in a lot of domains. But no study considers using the viewing freedom it brings to improve remote driving and avoiding crashes in rough environments. This study focuses on possible benefits of using virtual reality headset beside monitor display in remote driving. It compares driving efficiency of a sample of users driving in a simulated environment using VR headset and monitor display. In order to benefit from the flexibility it offers, we used, as a first step, a simulated environment that is easier to transform. For our experiment we used the following hardware: a Windows 7 computer, Euro-Truck Simulator 2 [ETS2], a Logitech G27 racing wheel, a Thrustmaster T16000M joystick and an Oculus Rift headset DK2 [OCULUSDK2]. Our tests have been performed on Euro-Truck as it is one of the few software supporting VR headsets. Moreover, Euro-Truck brings a built-in tool, which allows us to create our map. This map is divided into several sections designed as exercises for users. It is designed to explicit the relevance of viewpoint freedom in critical remote driving situations. We analyzed the overall performance of the user using several criteria: time needed to execute all sections, viewpoint changes, penalties accumulated through collisions and number of falls. The map is divided into four sections: First section consists in corridors with sharp turns, requiring the user to perform complex manoeuvring. Second section is composed of an elevated platform, requiring the user to be extremely precise in its driving. Third section goal is to reach objects, hidden in surrounding environment. Fourth is a high-speed slalom, user needs to anticipate its next turn. A sample of 44 users has done the experiment. The test is composed of two exercises of five minutes each, one with a VR headset and one with a monitor. The user can move his point of view using his head with VR headset or using a joystick without. Most users discovered VR headset with this experiment and 49% of users were not able to finish it due to sicknesses during utilization of the Oculus Rift. This situation is well known by VR users, developers and creators. Concerning our study, 61% of users who have finished the experiment achieved a lower completion time with the Oculus Rift. The time is improved in mean by 18% and up to 49% compared with monitor display time. During these tests, we also noticed that most of the users did not use the joystick whereas every subject used his head to increase his environment perception. Up to 70% of users returned us their feeling of an easier driving with Oculus Rift, even subjects made sick by it. These results show that users take advantage of viewpoint freedom to increase manoeuvring, and being more reactive. This shows that VR headset could be a great alternative to monitor for remote driving. Furthermore, we are working on the next step, which is making an immersive driving system on a mobile robot platform, and complete this analysis with real driving tests on this platform.
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Communication dans un congrès
Conference on Road Safety & Simulation 2015 (RSS 2015), Oct 2015, Orlando, United States. Proceedings of the International Conference on Road Safety & Simulation. 〈http://www.ce.ucf.edu/asp/cfp_Rss/Cd/start.html〉
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Bruno Ricaud, Robin Lietar, Cyril Joly. Are Virtual Reality headsets efficient for remote driving?. Conference on Road Safety & Simulation 2015 (RSS 2015), Oct 2015, Orlando, United States. Proceedings of the International Conference on Road Safety & Simulation. 〈http://www.ce.ucf.edu/asp/cfp_Rss/Cd/start.html〉. 〈hal-01510779〉

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