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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Cockpit vs desktop driving simulators

When people think of a driving simulator, they usually see a frame with a car seat and three monitors attached on top of the frame. In most cases, driving simulators are used for driver training. The development started in the 1990's and became more popular during the last five years. They usually run on a windows computer with a advanced graphics board with 3 to 4 out put channels. In most cases, there are three graphics channels where each channel is presented on a separate monitor. There's a channel for the forward out of the window view, one for the left view and one for the right view. The horizontal viewing angle covers 180 to 210 degrees horizontal field of view (FOV). Inside each channel a rearview mirror is inserted, so basically there's an almost 360 degrees horizontal FOV.

For training, the most important part consists of the software. The more part-tasks of driving are teached and trained, the better the simulator. Its important that the simulator training addresses the same skills as driving in a real car. These skills must be rehearsed a lot in order to become automated by the driver. In that case, they require less attention and the driver can attend better to the surroundings and to unexpected events, which greatly enhancs traffic safety.

The best driving simulators have a higher training value. Yet, strangely, this is not what driving instructors generally look for. They often see a driving simulator as a marketing trick, to show the world how advanced they are. For that, its important for them how the simulator looks.

The price of a driving simulator is a sum of three things:
- the software
- the required hardware: a computer with a high-end GPU (graphics board), 3 or 4 monitors, and set of actuators (steering wheel, pedals, gear shifter and buttons and switches) anda sound system
- the additional hardware, for example a cockpit with a car seat or a motion platform.

The software and the required hardware are essential. The additional hardware is NOT essential. You can do without a very expensive motion platform or an expensive cockpit.

Desktop simulators have the software and the required hardware, but they don't have the addidtional hardware. Carnetsoft sells desktop simulators or just simply the software and the price for a compete system is lower than 5000 euro. Other sellers of driving simulators such as ST Software or Green Dino sell cockpit simulators at prices between 15000 and 20000 euro. This big difference in prices is mainly for the cockpit, a compinent that is not really needed.

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