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UVa and DMV Testing Out a Virtual Driving Test

By: Suzanne Wilson Email
By: Suzanne Wilson Email

December 17, 2012

What if you could take your driving test without getting into a car? Well, now the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are teaming up to make that happen.

This year, two Virginia DMV's, one in Charlottesville, the other in Fairfax, are testing out an alternative to in-car driving tests with a virtual reality driving simulator. It works just like a car, except you don't move. The program tests your road skills with stop lights, emergency vehicles and other careless drivers.

Gabriel Camacho, a researcher at the Charlottesville DMV, said, "The purpose of the driving simulator is to see how accurate a person can drive. So, basically testing driving ability."

The research project is to find out how fair and accurate the driving simulator is. It's not necessarily to replace driving tests, but maybe to one day work alongside them down the road.

"It's not going to be like driving your own car but it will test the same skills. For the people we've had so far, they believe that is does to a certain extent," said Camacho.

The experience is equipped with a speedometer, rear and ride view mirrors, a 180 degree view, and a blinker.

Camacho said, " It tests your vision. It tests your motor skills, so, your ability to break in front of other cars and to avoid potholes and things like that. It also tests some things such as memory, your working memory and your ability to do all of those things while seeing signs on the highway and remembering what they were."

Don't worry, if you decide to volunteer for the driving simulator, the test results aren't going to affect your current drivers' license or insurance in any way.

Within the nest year, the research staff hopes to have a thousand volunteers try out the system at the two simulator locations. The test takes about an hour to an hour and a half to complete. It's up to volunteers to get in the driver's seat for the research process to get moving.

If you would like to volunteer you can stop by the DMV in Pantops or contact Gabriel Camacho at (703) 728- 0490 or by email at gc2ag@virginia.edu to make an appointment.

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