It turns out that virtual reality technology, technology that simulates experiences and environments, can be used for more than jumping inside a videogame (virtually of course). The Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) is turning to virtual reality to test its senior citizens’ driving capabilities.
KNPA is slowly moving towards adopting a limited driving license for senior drivers as early as 2025, if not sooner. In contrast to many other countries across the globe, the driving privileges of seniors are not subject to strict restrictions in South Korea, unless they are proven to be suffering from dementia, in which case they are forbidden from driving altogether.
Both the three-year license renewal period for those 75 years and older, as well as the voluntary return of driver’s license for those over the age of 65, have already been effective. For its part, the KNPA continues to voice concern about the number of incidents involving older drivers, as well as the growing aging of the country’s population.
The researchers who are taking part in the experiment are emphasizing the safety concerns associated with the experiment by emphasizing that eyesight deteriorates with age, particularly in low-light conditions — such as driving at night, for example — and that this is particularly dangerous in driving situations. Using a virtual reality headset to examine driving, cognitive, and memory skills will be employed in the VR exam, in a manner similar to how virtual reality technology is used in dementia clinics to assess the brain functions of senior adults.
While the specifics of the research have not been made public, a similar academic study undertaken by independent scientists has conducted an experiment in which they evaluated virtual reality technology to measure driving skills in order to see whether it was any more accurate.
The researchers conducted driving simulator tests in order to analyze different driving behaviors in a range of driving situations in order to measure the participants’ visual acuity. The participants’ visual acuity was assessed using the results of the tests.
A total of two situations were included in the virtual simulations: highway driving during the day and highway driving at night. To put the drivers’ talents to the ultimate test, three unexpected accidents were staged in each scenario.