03 Under the hood: getting technical
Discussion on Second Life
What to call the avatar when describing it
o This is a psychological game that we have to play
Some would say ‘I’, ‘he or she’, ‘it’
o Tells you how you are positioning yourself in real world and virtual world
o It is important to know how you talk about this avatar
What is a simulator?
‘What-if’ simulators tend to consist of computer programs alone, sometimes involving a graphical display
of the output. – (Becker & Parker, 2012, p. 4)
o In the real world, we think of what if as situations
A complex melding of physical devices that mimic real controls and sensors with computer software that
feeds signals to those devices to make the situation seem real.
o A simulator is not all virtual. In many cases, we forget to think about the input (how the
information going into the machine – for example, a touch screen, audio, mouse movements, etc.)
o We have to not only think about the software, but also about the connection about the physical
devices and the software in order to mimic the real world
Micro simulation (microanalyticsimulation) of Traffic Flow
A way to use web based browsing to understand different types of real world scenarios
o Basically browser based and you see toggles
o As a traffic engineer trying to design the road, they try to show the audience what they are doing
o This tells engineers certain conditions and what happens
o Simulations are a fantastic way for people to try to figure our different models
We need this because it offers the analyzing of behaviour
Overview: Computer simulations are used in complex situations where mathematical probability is
insufficient; when consequence prediction is difficult; when large numbers of objects need to be accounted
for; and when variability is high.
o When these four things appear, we tend to create a simulation
Goals/Purpose/Use: Aids in general public’s understanding of traffic flow, supports experimentation, also
helps understand fuel consumption (we have to consider how fuel will have an effect in the environment),
effects of driver behaviour, and the role of communication (drivers knowing what is going on).
o In Germany, they also send small visual aids for drivers ahead of the traffic so that drivers can
make decisions for alternative routes
Structure: Observing traffic for a long period then translating observations into a set of rules that describe
how vehicles behave
Rules can be policies, could be driving rules for new learners, could be about what the
speed limit will be dynamically on the road
o Statistics, coding into a computer program that allows simulated vehicles to be represented on a
computer screen, elimination of unlikely scenarios, repeated testing.
o New situations – ‘interventions’ – can be tested against the simulation before the changes are
You want to test that out first, simulations are extremely useful
What is it that we need for a simulation
o Web-based, Java plug in required, but no other special download.
o Graphical user interface.
What is being simulated:
o Flow of traffic – vehicle motion and interaction between vehicles
GRI Virtual Remote Operated Vehicle Simulator
Overview: VROV allows the control of a simulated submersible vehicle in a virtual space suing a
dedicated control console or on a computer. Allows the control of a simulated manipulator – such as the
arm on the space shuttle. o Used for instructional pilot training program. You can see that this will let people put themselves
in the actual position
o If you have an arm of a space shuttle, it shows how you actually control that from further away
Goals/Purpose/Use: Training of staff without the danger of them damaging expensive equipment.
o You cannot have them actually crashing things when they are learning
Structure: Is a 3D representation based on models, in real time on a screen, mock-up of the control panels
and input devices, environment, polygon-based graphics.
o They try to be as close to the environment as possible
o Compared to the last one, polygon-based graphics means that behind the actual image, there is just
a rough set of points and lines sketching out the area, then an image it projected on top of it
Interaction (gameplay): detailed console or a mouse or joystick and a video display. Make system
responsive to user actions/inputs.
o How do you input into the system, it is much more complicated than the one before
What is being simulated: a real vehicle, and the control scheme for the vehicle being simulated.
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