22 May 2008 14:50:00.000
A state-of-the-art motorcycle simulator capable of giving us valuable information on rider and road safety, motorcycle design and motorcycle engineering is currently under construction at The University of Nottingham.
The simulator — which is the first of its kind in the world — will consist of a Triumph motorcycle mounted on a unique rig designed and built at the University. This interactive moving platform will then be linked to driving simulation software that will project different scenarios onto huge screens in front of and behind the motorcycle, recreating a realistic riding experience for the motorcyclist.
This unique system will allow engineers to study aspects of motorcycle ergonomics and rider human factors — a relatively new research area. This covers all aspects of motorcycling, from motorcycle design and rider equipment to rider behaviour and competence and road safety.
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Dr Alex Stedmon, a lecturer in the School of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering's Centre for Motorcycle Ergonomics and Rider Human Factors, is leading the project. “The simulator offers a unique research tool on a number of levels,” he said. “The motorcycle allows riders to operate controls and lean on the motorcycle as they would in the real world. The software also allows us to model different weather conditions, hazards, traffic and pedestrians so that we have completely interactive scenarios.
“We've taken guidance from bikers about the important factors in developing a simulation of real riding. What we are building is much more sophisticated than current gaming technology provides that allows us to capture data from a rider performance and research perspective.”
By putting the rider into tailor-made scenarios and measuring both their and the motorcycle's performance, the simulator will produce valuable data, both for academics and the motorcycle industry — manufacturers and road safety organisations have already shown an enthusiastic interest in the project.
Anything from hazards — such as children or animals running out into the road — to different light, traffic and weather conditions can be programmed into the simulator, allowing researchers to measure the responses of different riders riding exactly the same scenarios. And real-life environments can be faithfully reproduced, so that riders can take a leisurely tour of Beeston, or give the motorcycle a real test on the racetrack at Donington Park.
The simulator will also feature a rear road view projector, which will be viewable through the motorcycle's mirrors. This provides a more realistic riding experience as well as allowing riders to perform lifesaver checks — glances over the shoulder to check the way is safe and clear.
Final year Mechanical Engineering students have designed and built the rig along with and integration software that will be used on the simulator, which is expected to be up and running by June.
The development of the simulator has been part funded by a New Lecturers Grant, a University initiative which provides funding for individual research projects. The simulator has also been supported by Triumph, who provided a Daytona 675 for use within the rig.
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Notes to editors:
The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy).
Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.