Driving simulator gives UOW Motorsport a competitive edge

Transport for NSW Centre for Road Safety donates driver training tool to University

Driving simulator gives UOW Motorsport a competitive edge

The University of Wollongong Motorsport team will have an edge on its rivals at this year’s Formula-SAE Australasian Championships in December, after Transport for NSW donated a driving simulator to UOW’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences.

UOW Motorsport will use the simulator to train its drivers, enabling them to become familiar with the courses and driving challenges they will need to complete at the FSAE Australasian Championships later this year.

Peter Boland, Acting Manager Road Safety Technology at Transport for NSW’s Centre for Road Safety in Wollongong handed over the simulator to Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences Executive Dean Professor Valerie Linton at the SMART Infrastructure Building where it will be housed.

Mr Boland said the Centre for Road Safety had used the simulator as a driver-training tool for a ‘connected-vehicle’ research project involving drivers of heavy vehicles which were fitted with devices that allowed the vehicles to communicate with each other and with roadside infrastructure such as traffic signals.

The simulator allowed the trial participants to become familiar with the device’s alerts before the devices were fitted to their vehicles. However, with the Centre now using virtual reality technology for participant training, the simulator had become surplus to its needs.

“We no longer had a use for the simulator as a training tool, so rather than let it sit in storage, we asked ‘Who can best use this?'” Mr Boland said.

“We had interest from other universities and research institutes, but we thought we’d prefer to keep it local. Also, UOW had worked with us in the early days of our connected vehicle trial.

“It’s good to know the simulator will be repurposed and used for further research by UOW.”

Professor Linton said the simulator would be a valuable resource for the Faculty.

“I would like to thank Transport for NSW for its very generous donation. I can tell already that our students will get a lot of benefit from this equipment. I look forward to seeing the uses they put it to and the skills they gain from it,” Professor Linton said.

UOW Motorsport's Gabrielle Casey in driving simulator

For the students from UOW Motorsport, the simulator will be a fantastic resource, enabling drivers to train and to be tested under different conditions and while performing different tasks as they prepare for competition.

The Formula SAE competition is an international event hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Students are required to design and build an open-wheel, formula-style racing car.

UOW Motorsport will compete against other Australian and international teams in a series of static and dynamic events, including design, cost, acceleration, one lap sprints and endurance events.

The event gives students from engineering and other disciplines the opportunity to develop their skills in design, management, manufacturing, communication, research and business operations – as well as developing their teamwork and leadership skills.

UOW Motorsport Principal Claudia Muller, a fourth-year theatre and communications student, said the simulator would be a big help in the team’s preparations.

“Yes, it’s definitely a valuable tool, one-hundred per cent. We can’t do what we do without the support of organisations like Transport for NSW. We really appreciate it,” she said.

Team Technical Director Steven Adams, a fourth-year engineering student majoring in mechatronics and mathematics, said the Formula SAE competition was a great way for students to put skills learnt in their studies to a practical use.

“We learn all this stuff in engineering, but you don’t typically get to apply it until you get thrown out into the real world,” he said.

“This team allows you to use those skills, hone them in and puts you a step ahead of the game when you eventually leave uni.

“Formula SAE is very well recognised worldwide, with more than 600 teams taking part globally. A lot of companies and industry leaders, they all know the project and they typically recruit straight from there.”

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