The education potential of VR and the Oculus Rift is already well-established, but this year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Toyota showed off TeenDrive365, a driver education simulation to teach new drivers about the risks of distracted driving. The simulator puts drivers in the cockpit of a Toyota vehicle, in a fully immersive virtual environment that includes passengers, traffic, buildings and roadway obstacles.
The driver is actually in a stationary Toyota vehicle in the demo both set up by Toyota at NAIAS, and their use of the gas, brake and steering wheel are reflected in the virtual environment. Stereo headphones complete the experience, pumping in realistic sounds including honking, sirens, and your annoying friends haranguing you about meaningless nonsense.
This simulator is part of Toyota’s larger TeenDrive365 project, which includes a number of resources, including tools, advice and event listings, to help new drivers get accustomed to driving, hopefully without fender benders or more serious incidents along the way. The distracted driving simulator, which actually does seem to replicate a more rich environment than many of the early attempts to provide driving simulations on VR platforms.
Obviously Oculus Rift and a full-sized Toyota vehicle wired as an input device isn’t generally available to all, but Toyota plans to tour with the demo around the U.S. this year, so if you’re looking for a preview of how likely your teen is to smash up your ride, check out the company’s plans for upcoming events.