October 12, 2017 9:31 am
Updated: October 13, 2017 8:27 am

Toronto Rehabilitation Institute launches Canada’s most advanced driving simulator

Thu, Oct 12: It’s the most advanced driving simulator in the country and it’s being used by scientists with the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Shallima Maharaj got behind the wheel to find out how it’s being harnessed to improve driving habits and ultimately, lives.

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iDAPT labs at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network (UHN) are set to unveil DriverLab – “an underground, state-of-the-art virtual reality research simulator.”

The driving simulator was designed to study the impact that a person’s health has on their driving performance, with a specific focus on healthy older adults and people living with injury or illness.

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“Almost everyone has had a parent or grandparent who they’ve had to take the keys away, and the reaction is absolutely terrible,” said Dr. Geoff Fernie, director at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in a DriverLab video on YouTube.

READ MORe: Traffic survey ranks Montreal and Toronto among world’s 20 best cities to drive in

According to a statement released by UHN, vehicular collisions are the No. 1 cause of accidental death in Canada and cost the country almost $62.7 billion each year. Globally, 1.24 million people around the world will die in a motor vehicle accident every year and up to 50 million people suffer from disabling injuries as a result of those incidents.

DriverLab replicates real-life challenges drivers face on the road, such as rain and glare from headlights at night.

“The outcomes of DriverLab research will help to reduce the emotional, physical and financial costs of vehicle collisions, by reducing their occurrence,” continued the statement.

READ MORE: Canada’s worst cities for spending hours and hours in traffic

“DriverLab deals with an issue that is not just technical but a very important social issue that puts stress in people’s lives,” said Fernie.

“We’re motivated to solve problems that really affect people.”

The five main goals of DriverLab are:

  • Support independent aging through customized licencing — testing people for driving in different circumstances.
  • Study the effects of medication on driving performance — what safe dosages there may be.
  • Research the implications of drowsy driving — and whether vehicles can detect it or warn you of it and keep you awake.
  • Determine the full effects of automated and semi-autonomous driving systems.
  • Reduce driving simulator sickness.

“Most driving simulators are developed to improve the design of cars, ours is developed to study drivers,” said Fernie.

DriverLab is the only simulator in the country with a 360-degree view of motion.

LISTEN:  Dr. Geoff Fernie of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute joins Kelly Cutrara on AM640

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