Driving Simulator

3D Driving Simulator with cardiac timing intensifying fear and threat processing

Athanasios Ypermachos


Katerina Mania

Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Research Domain
• Virtual Reality
• Neuroscience


The goal of this project was to create a realistic 3D car driving simulator to be used for neuroscientific experimentation, in collaboration with the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. This project actually builds on earlier work at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School which shows that although many studies suggest that perceptual processing, particularly to painful stimuli, tend to be inhibited at cardiac systole, fear detection and processing is selectively enhanced at systole. A photorealistic driving simulator has been implemented, displayed on an Oculus Head Mounted Display, controlled by an actual wheel interface and pedals. The software is programmed in Unity and communicated a realistic experience of a driving a car on an endless road in nature. A steering wheel as well as controlling pedals have been integrated in the application calibrated in terms of the efficiency and sensitivity in order to achieve a simulation environment which is as close as possible to realistic driving.A highly accurate method of monitoring the heart rate of individuals put forward while users are driving. An oximeter attached to the earlobe was integrated in the application and was synchronized by 95% accuracy with an Electrocardiogram attached to the chest. Cardiac timing detection provides input to the driving simulator developed from scratch, which in turn, guides the occurrences of threat-inducing events while a user is immersed in a synthetic environment. These events appear at distinct points of the heart rate, either at cardiac systole or at cardiac diastole. It is important to determine if the reactions of the users are induced faster at cardiac systole when the baroreceptors are fired, or at cardiac diastole when the baroreceptors are quiet. These occurrences of threat-inducing events consist of: living obstacles such as horses, human-beings and non-living obstacles such as barrels.