Ensuring the Safety and Success of our Military
Though not as high in profile, motor vehicle accidents can be as lethal as battle to armed forces in combat zones. In fact, motor vehicle accidents account for one-third of our casualties. Researchers at ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) aim to greatly reduce accidents through enhanced vehicle control training with their creation of Simulation-bAsed VEhicle Control Training (SAVE-CT) simulator.
Preparing Soldiers for a Different Environment
When deployed to combat zones, soldiers can be faced with driving conditions that are dramatically different than those they are used to. Roads are often unpaved and narrow and not suited for heavy vehicle traffic. The vehicles they drive, whether Humvees or MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), can be top-heavy with equipment and armor, increasing the risk of rollover; and most military vehicles do not include anti-lock brake systems (ABS).
Working with Team O’Neil, which specializes in training high-speed rally car drivers, CRREL scientists recorded vehicle inputs on driving tests in conditions that were similar to those soldiers would experience. Those inputs were then used to code virtual simulation environments and training mechanisms used in the SAVE-CT simulator.
Keeping Cool Under Pressure
Driving a vehicle in a combat zone can in itself be a serious challenge because the stakes are high and road conditions are uncertain. Knowing how to swiftly react to sudden friction changes, road depressions, or soft shoulders is essential to retain vehicle control. This simulator has been shown to enhance the basic vehicle control skills needed to succeed in these conditions. By recreating unexpected situations, drivers can develop rapid responses automatically through muscle memory.
This simulator helps overcome a number of obstacles to consistent vehicle training. It reduces the expense of using and maintaining training vehicles, it can simulate different types of vehicles, and it ensures that individuals can go at their own pace in a safe environment to acquire the proper skills. The SAVE-CT simulator also aids in keeping those skills sharp over time through regular retraining.
An illustration of the potential of SAVE-CT is seen in a study at CRREL comparing the responses of 10 drivers trained in the simulator with 10 untrained drivers in identical scenarios. While modern passenger cars are typically equipped with ABS, most military vehicles are not, requiring the subjects to learn a different way of steering in a skid situation.
The drivers trained in the simulator proved much faster at braking and steering after braking (required in non-ABS vehicles) than those who were not trained, and an additional group of drivers selected for retraining had reaction times even faster.
- Can simulate a family car, military humvee (equipped) or M-ATV.
- Unlike other simulators, will perform 360o continuous rotation
- Force feedback steering wheel driven by realistic responses to terrain
Though the simulator currently has the seating position of a rally car, researchers hope to adapt it to better resemble the seating in a military vehicle. Additional vehicle models may also be available in the future. The simulator also does not presently have the ability to recreate the experience of collisions with another vehicle, which is another possible upgrade. The technology used to create the simulator can be adapted for different environments. Future iterations can be developed to simulate tanks or other vehicle types.
ERDC Points of Contact
Questions about the SAVE-CT simulator?
Contact: Michael Parker
Updated 25 August 2020