VR brings driving challenge simulation to North East

Residents of the North East of England have had a summer of fun with driving simulation on Oculus Rift virtual reality equipment in road safety roadshow.

Virtual driving experience road safety eventThe roadshow was organised by Road Respect and Independent Events with the dinstinctively branded and highly visible “Roadi” van spending 42 days between May and August visiting events throughout the area including major towns such as Newcastle and Sunderland.

On board the van was the Oculus Rift virtual reality driving simulator which was specially set up to reflect regional landmarks such as the Angel of The North, Newcastle Quayside and Stadium of Light. Focusing on driver behaviour and the dangers of drink-driving, the simulator presented various distractions to the user such as a mobile phone ringing or rogue pedestrians running from behind vehicles. The user was also able to switch between “sober” and “drunk” modes so they could compare in an instant who drinking and driving can affect their performance.

At the end of the drive, the users were given a score which they could compare with others and share via social media integration on Facebook and Twitter which posts their scores directly to the users profiles.

Using Oculus Rift technology with Road Respect brought to life what can be quite a somber topic and one that is notoriously difficult to get people to engage with.  For the vast majority of participants this was their first time using this incredibly immersive technology so to have them use it in an environment where they are supposed to drive carefully rather than recklessly, as seen in most popular car games, is a great way to change behaviours and attitudes towards road safety. The leaderboard and social media sharing also encouraged users to get into a competition with their friends as to who could be the best driver, increasing the reach of the campaign messages.

This wasn’t the first time Independent Events has incorporated immersive technology into its experiential marketing campaigns, having previously opened up a series of Road Respect popup shops around the North East’s largest shopping centres, highlighting the dangers of drink driving with an augmented reality shop front which featured a car smash through the main window when the experience was triggered by a specifically designed Road Respect augmented reality app.

Steve Donaldson from Road Respect said, “Road Respect has always tried to keep at the front of innovation and new technology to make the biggest impact with road users – The Oculus Rift virtual reality technology and Roadi represented the next step. Providing an immersive driving experience and correcting behaviour from our events is a great way to engage and educate. Ultimately the aim is to change driving behaviour, make our roads safer and save lives.”

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Human Factors

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