Project Westdrive: Unity City With Self-Driving Cars and Pedestrians for Virtual Reality Studies

Farbod N. Nezami, Maximilian A. Wächter, Gordon Pipa, Peter König
2020 Frontiers in ICT  
Virtual environments will deeply alter the way we conduct scientific studies on human behavior. Possible applications range from spatial navigation over addressing moral dilemmas in a more natural manner to therapeutic applications for affective disorders. The decisive factor for this broad range of applications is that virtual reality (VR) is able to combine a well-controlled experimental environment together with the ecological validity of the immersion of test subjects. Until now, however,
more » ... ogramming such an environment in Unity ® requires profound knowledge of C# programming, 3D design, and computer graphics. In order to give interested research groups access to a realistic VR environment which can easily adapt to the varying needs of experiments, we developed a large, open source, scriptable, and modular VR city. It covers an area of 230 hectare, up to 150 self-driving vehicles and 655 active and passive pedestrians and thousands of nature assets to make it both highly dynamic and realistic. Furthermore, the repository presented here contains a stand-alone City AI toolkit for creating avatars and customizing cars. Finally, the package contains code to easily set up VR studies. All main functions are integrated into the graphical user interface of the Unity ® Editor to ease the use of the embedded functionalities. In summary, the project named Westdrive is developed to enable research groups to access a state-of-the-art VR environment that is easily adapted to specific needs and allows focus on the respective research question.
doi:10.3389/fict.2020.00001 fatcat:64uztbggmjfrfcimdrfndbwlxe