Challenging the World First. Story of Development of Riding Simulators
In 1988, study started on the world's first riding simulator for motorcycles. At that time, large simulators existed in the world for automobiles. However, no information was available at all on simulators for motorcycles. Development started in Asaka R&D Center with participation of experts on images, sound, kinetic theory and system control, from the Safe Driving Spread Headquarters in Head Office having the know-how on safe driving education of motorcycles and Honda Engineering having an established reputation on robot control.
|Aims of Riding Simulators|
|The aims of riding simulators were in the "experience of hazardous
situations" and "training including driving skills". The large
goals for that purpose were to simulate and mimic the experience
of the basic function of the movements of motorcycles, "drive",
"turn" and "stop". Those in charge of drive analysis pushed
forward the analysis centering round riding feelings while those
in charge of technological computations converted the movements
of motorcycles into numerical formulas. Those in charge of sound
studied methods to reproduce engine sound unique to motorcycles.
And those in charge of images, anticipating the progress of
future computers, selected CGI method, in which computers as
image generating device will create images real time. Several
months later, a riding section was assembled on top of a movable
unit and the unit began to move as directed by the computer.
From the sound division, digitized engine sounds were reproduced
and the image division succeeded in displaying images at the
rate of 30 frames per second. The kinetic computation division
began to produce results of computation highly correlated to
actual drive as against input values of operation by actual
|Prototype No. 1|
|Prototype No. 1 was assembled in 1989. This simulator
was made up of a structure with its entirety movable, putting
the major parts of the riding unit and image displaying unit
on a huge cradle. With the tuning of details finished, a test
run was started by motorcycle experts. However, the results
were terrible; all of them tumbled. It was disclosed that the
cause of failure lay in the fundamental issue of demanding manipulation
of motorcycles while no G (acceleration) was felt on the simulator,
i.e., riders could not feel the posture of the motorcycle body.
After repeated changes in the program, they returned to the
starting point of "being able to safely experience hazards".
The program was changed from that "demanding manipulation of
motorcycles", targeting on "anybody can easily ride" and "let
them have the feeling of riding on motorcycles".
Episode "Experiencing hazardous Situations"
Simulation was pushed forward for "experiencing hazardous situations" in Prototype No. 1. A program, in which to mix vehicles furnished with intelligence and characteristics of hazards on computers and those with general characteristics. However, one encountered no hazardous situations despite continuing to drive. On the contrary, driving vehicles decrease in number. The puzzle was solved at last after driving around the course. At one intersection of the course, an accident was caused between the vehicle turning to the right presenting a hazard and one driving straight ahead, and vehicles behind were thrown into congestion. All vehicles were concentrated there. Learning from that case, giving intelligence to vehicles was stopped. And programming technique to produce "experience of hazardous situations" was further refined.
|Prototype No. 2|
|The next step for full utilization in the actual
scene of education was the examination in 1990. The development
of prototype No. 2 was started, aiming at the improvement of
educational functions and making the device compact in size.
In No.2, a scoring system was adopted and the screen was enlarged
from 52 to 120 inches. Furthermore, function was upgraded to
enable to practically feel the wind during driving. The prototype
No. 2 was announced at Welcome Plaza of Honda at Aoyama and
installed in the Traffic Education Center, Suzuka, in 1991.
As the world's first riding simulator for educational purposes,
its education effects were verified, together with instructors,
for two years. Based on the achievement of a total of 3,500
riders including actual trainees, effective methods of education
using the riding simulators were established.
|Prototype No. 3|
|The major goal of developing prototype No. 3 was
to cut down the cost of No. 2 to one tenth and yet surpass in
the performance. It has become feasible to cut down the costs
by substantial improvement in the performance of personal computers,
redesign of systems, refinement of control programs and simplification
of movable units. In the sector of image generators, which account
for more than a half of the entire costs, however, equipment
capable of satisfying requirements could not be found anywhere.
The team, therefore, approached Evans & Sutherland Corporation
of the U.S., having high technology and experience in image
generators for simulators on the possibility of development.
As the consequence, an image generator meeting with spec requirements
of Honda has come into existence.
|From Prototype to Mass Production Machines|
|With prototype No. 3 at last, the study of a riding
simulator brought down the curtain in 1994. Having no plan for
mass production then, the development team lasted for six years
was disbanded. Just about the time when everybody started thinking
the riding simulator project stopped, the motorcycle licensing
system was revised and a training course using simulators was
added to the requirements for the acquisition of a license for
large motorcycles in driving schools. The team was reorganized
and development was started for mass production. Development
was pushed forward while making efforts for the reduction of
costs and working out standards for new designs and test. Furthermore,
the acquisition of form authorization from the Public Safety
Commission has become necessary. On June 19, 1996, the 1st mass-produced
unit came off the line. Obtaining high evaluation from a number
of training schools about drive feeling like on actual vehicles,
traffic environment and functions, the simulators could contribute
to the establishment of safer and more comfortable traffic environments.