Conference Proceeding

The Perception of Optical Flow in Driving Simulators

  • Zhishuai Yin (Northeastern University Boston, MA)
  • James R Mourant (Northeastern University Boston, MA)


Optical flow is generated when a driver’s vehicle traverses a 3-D virtual environment in a driving simulator. Understanding the generated optical flow may help in lessening simulator sickness. Two experiments were designed to investigate the perceived optical flow in different driving environments using two driving simulators: 1) a fixed base simulator and 2) a turning cabin simulator whose turning cabin rotates around the y-axis. In the first experiment, the perception of optical flow when making left/right turns was studied using both simulators. Results revealed that subjects experienced a higher amount of optical flow when making right turns then left turns. In addition, the optical flow perceived by drivers in the fixed base simulator was greater than that in the turning cabin simulator. We designed the second experiment to investigate the optical flow perceived when driving straight ahead, driving on circular curves, and driving on curves with transitions (clothoids). Again, two simulators were used. The amount of optical flow was highest when driving on circular curves, and was lowest when driving straight ahead. While using the turning cabin simulator, the degree of optical flow decreased greatly on circular curves, and curves with clothoids as compared to that in the fixed base simulator. We conclude that optical flow in driving simulators can be lessen by using a turning cabin simulator.

How to Cite:

Yin, Z. & Mourant, J., (2009) “The Perception of Optical Flow in Driving Simulators”, Driving Assessment Conference 5(2009), 176-182. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2009 the author(s)

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Published on
23 Jun 2009
Peer Reviewed