Motorcycle simulator hits funding wall

Motorcycle simulator

An Australian computer games production company hoping to develop a Motorcycle Accident Avoidance Training Simulator has pulled the plug after hitting a funding wall.

Podium Entertainment managing director Chris Wise says he spent more than six months of “going around in circles”.

“There appears to be lots of talk about improving motorcycle safety, but when it comes to actually funding it, there’s no money available,” he says.

Motorcycle Accident Avoidance Training Simulator Motorcycle simulator hits funding wall
Motorcycle Accident Avoidance Training Simulator to feature Australian conditions

“I’ve also discovered that some institutions see no significant advantages to simulators as being an effective means to teach and retain real-world skills, arguing that skills learned in any type of performance enhancing program are easily forgotten unless you have the availability for ongoing practice.”

He says their 3D interactive program would challenge motorcycle riders with a range of potentially dangerous scenarios, how to deal with them and how to avoid them in future instances.

Chris says their transportable simulator could have been used in schools and places where riders gather.

It would have used the latest 3D technology with the Oculus Rift VR headset.

Chris was hoping to fund the project via a combination of sponsorship and Government grant contributions, and then provide the simulator to the Australian public free of charge.

He says Queensland Transport wanted to seek federal funding as the project would benefit riders Australia-wide.

However, to access federal funding, they had to provide research into the effectiveness of a motorcycle simulator, which is why Chris needed the funding in the first place!

“It ended up as a chicken-or-the-egg scenario,” he says.

“It’s a real shame because we have world-class tech ready to go,” he says. (See the video at the top of the page.)
Motorcycle Accident Avoidance Training Simulator Motorcycle simulator hits funding wall

Chris also had a lot of interest from CARRS-Q at the Queensland University of Technology but ran into more funding barriers.

“Motorcycle research is a high priority for CARRS-Q, but they don’t have the funding necessary to do what they’d like to do,” Chris says.

“However their involvement would be purely for research and to add credibility to the project – we don’t actually need their help to develop the simulator.”

CARRS-Q research associate Dr Ross Blackman says the project “looks interesting”.

“The MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) in the US were using one for training which I had a run on in 2013,” he says.

“I thought it may have had some value for teaching awareness, hazard perception etc, but it was limited. It was portable with essential controls such as handlebar, gears, throttle, brakes etc, though used a small screen only and not 3D.  

“It seems that Podium’s project is more sophisticated. I hope they can make it work.”

CARRS-Q also says they have another prospect looking at developing a motorcycle simulator.

Motorcycle simulator Motorcycle simulator hits funding wall

The Sunshine Coast-based Podium Entertainment developed a high-tech immersive 3D driving simulator for the University of the Sunshine Coast and RACQ Insurance for research into road rage. The simulation images in this article come from that project.

Chris says he used to ride until he got married and is now a “huge motorsports fan” who also wants to create an accurate Isle of Man TT simulator, which would involve laser scanning the entire 60km circuit.

If you are interested in helping Chris and his team fund the Motorcycle Accident Avoidance Training Simulator, he can be contacted via email.

Meanwhile, if you want to increase your riding skills apparently you should play video games for about five hours a day!

According to a joint study by the University of Hong Kong and New York University Shanghai, playing video games that long will improve your “visuomotor control skills” or the ability to synchronise visual information with physical movement.

We’re not much on playing video games and certainly wouldn’t waste five hours a day playing them. We reckon nothing beats getting out there and riding!

8 Comments

  1. Riding simulators could be designed to teach advanced skills and teach riders to overcome their incorrect survival reactions. Survival reactions are actions we perform subconsciously in an attempt to avoid injury or death. We don’t decide to do them, don’t think about doing them, and may not be aware that we are doing them, because they are done subconsciously. But when riding a motorcycle some of our natural reactions are wrong, and by performing these reactions you will actually make yourself crash.

    The most obvious survival reaction is applying the brakes. The subconscious part of the brain knows that to stop you apply the brakes, and if you want to stop quickly you apply the brakes harder. Therefore it concludes that if you want to stop as quickly as possible you must apply the brakes as hard as possible, and keep them on as hard as possible. Of course, doing this results in locked wheels and a crash. A simulator may not feel quite the same as a real-life situation (no two real-life situations feel the same anyway) but the important part is learning the correct reaction. That is, if a wheel locks release the brake or reduce the brake pressure. Some riders think that learning this is unnecessary because you can use ABS. But ABS only works well on smooth dry bitumen. On wet, rough or loose surfaces it increases braking distances, and that is dangerous.

    Many riders react incorrectly when the front wheel slides out in a corner. The wheel is not going where the rider intended so the natural reaction is to try to steer it back. But doing this makes the slide worse. The tyre is already past the limits of its adhesion and trying to steer it back applies greater forces to it. To correct a front wheel slide you should widen out your turn. Stand the bike up a little and steer in the direction the front is sliding. Go with the front wheel, taking a line it can cope with. While doing this you will reduce your speed so even though you run wider than intended, in many situations, you will make it through the corner.

    Another incorrect reaction in some situations is closing the throttle. When you are leant over in a corner, especially in slippery conditions, closing the throttle can cause the front wheel to slide or increase a slide. When the bike is upright opening the throttle causes it to rotate backwards, and a powerful bike will wheelstand. So too, closing the throttle causes the bike to rotate forwards. When the bike is leant over it pushes the front wheel sideways as it rotates forwards. For example, recently while riding through a roundabout in a tropical downpour I hit a patch of silt on the road. Both tyres let go and the bike drifted across the road. I used the throttle to control the slide and continued riding with no fear or drama. If I had closed the throttle, as is the natural reaction for many riders, the bike would have rotated forwards causing the front wheel to slide more that the rear, and most likely I would have crashed.

    Learning these reactions takes practice and if you get it wrong you will crash. You don’t actually know where the limits are until you reach them and by then it could be too late. Simulators could be used to retrain the subconscious part of your brain so that you react correctly. However, they would have to be well designed.

    1. ABS reduces braking distance on low grip surfaces and allows steering while braking. It was designed for cars I that operate in countries that have snow and ice on their roads. It has its good points and bad points and failings, some of which can be mud gravel and corrugated surfaces but not wet. It works in two ways, it prevents the wheels from locking up and skidding but it allows maximum braking that occurs at the point a tyre starts to skid then releasing the brakes and applying the max again. This fails on gravel or mud if there is more traction to be had with a locked wheel. It really fails on corrugation because it mistakes the bumps for lock ups and can turn the brakes off when you really need them.
      A technique of rapidly slamming the peddle normally used to simulate ABS can save your life under the above circumstances as it has mine.
      Now all that is about cars and only slightly applies to bikes. ABS can kill you if you expect it to be there and it isn’t so a simulator should train riders for that occasion.
      I have ridden mostly without ABS so I know how to stop a bike in the wet and make it to the other side of an oil spill most of the time. I would love a simulator to practice these skills as I’m getting rusty in my old age spoiled with a modern ABS bike. As skilled as I am there is no way I could out brake an equivalent ABS bike.

      1. “This fails on gravel or mud if there is more traction to be had with a locked wheel”.

        Al, I realise that in your first paragraph you were referring to ABS on cars which is very different to ABS on motorcycles because a car is a twin track vehicle with four brakes controlled by only one pedal, and a motorcycle is a single track vehicle with a separate control for each brake. But just to clarify things, in rare circumstances it may be beneficial to lock a wheel on a motorcycle, but the important skill that every motorcyclist should learn is controlling the brakes so that the wheels are partially skidding but not locked (still rotating). On all surfaces this is when maximum braking is achieved. On smooth dry bitumen maximum braking is achieved when the wheels are skidding at about 5%. On other surfaces the percentages are higher. I have learnt to control brakes this way so there is no reason why others can’t. Simulators may help to learn this.

        The point of my comment;- When riding a motorcycle sometimes our natural reactions are entirely the wrong reactions For example, when the front wheel slides out in a corner the natural reaction is the exact opposite of the correct reaction. Because the front wheel has gone wrong the natural reaction is to try to correct it and bring it back, but the correct reaction is to go with the front wheel taking a line that it can cope with. Simulators could teach riders to overcome these incorrect reactions.

  2. We’d like to address the type of skills learning that riding schools can’t teach due to the dangers, particularly high speed maneuvers, recovery, riding on reduced friction surfaces etc. It’s not a problem to learn advanced driving techniques in a car on a wet racetrack, but not so on a bike.
    Simulators obviously don’t offer a complete solution, but I do believe that (if done right), they can aid in skills development and consequence awareness training.

  3. Most of us come off at some time when we start out on a bike. It usually hurts and brings us down to earth in the perception of our own riding skills. Some give up bikes most of us learn to ride within our capabilities and a few die.
    The main danger of simulators is giving operators a totally unrealistic appreciation of their own riding skills, when a mistake means just hitting the reset button rather than waiting in emergency to get gravel removed.

  4. Back in 1981 I rode a bike simulator at an amusement arcade I was very sophisticated for the time it had the ability to lean and maybe gear changes it was very realistic and fun. Being a new road rider at the time I can say that a few goes on it did help improve my skills a little only because I could go beyond my abilities without the pain of coming off, There was only one racetrack and the graphics were good for the day but not great and my real world skills quickly clashed with the simulators limitations ( hanging off the side on a bend didn’t give any benefit over just leaning) but from my experiance with it I can say it would be a great benefit to any rider to use especially if a racer wants to learn a new track before a race or to help with sports medicine monitoring etc. And the show Bike Torque should buy a few for their celebrity race segment .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *