Toronto (Oct. 12, 2017) – In a national first, researchers from the iDAPT labs at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network have launched DriverLab, an underground, state-of-the-art, virtual reality research simulator, designed to study the impact of our health on driving performance, with an aim to increase driver safety in healthy older adults and people living with injury or illness.

DriverLab is the most advanced driving simulator in Canada and unique in the world, in terms of the realistic experience it offers drivers. DriverLab will establish Canada as a global leader in safe driving research.

DriverLab's innovative technology comes at a time when vehicle collisions represent the number-one cause of accidental death in Canada, and cost Canadians $62.7 billion per year. Global numbers are equally staggering: Every year, 1.24 million people around the world die in motor vehicle collisions and up to 50 million people suffer from disabling injuries.

The outcomes of DriverLab research will help reduce the emotional, physical, and financial costs of vehicle collisions, by reducing their occurrence. "DriverLab deals with an issue that is not just technical, but a very important social issue that puts stress in people's lives," says Dr. Geoff Fernie, Research Institute Director, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. "We're motivated to solve problems that really affect people."

Watch our video: Discover the ground-breaking innovation and research goals of DriverLab

Research Goals of Driver Lab

Motor vehicle trauma has been referred to as a major, growing, public health problem – but limited research and resources have been dedicated to solving it. DriverLab aims to change that. Among other goals, the five main goals of DriverLab are to:

  1. Support independent aging through customized licensing. Too many older adults are involved in collisions. DriverLab will help allow older adults to continue driving as long as safely possible.
  2. Study the effects of medication on driving performance. DriverLab will be used to determine the effect of various drugs, such as opioids, on driving performance. Watch our video: Dr. Andrea Furlan, Senior Scientist and pain specialist, explains how DriverLab will support her research goals of understanding how opioids affect a person's ability to drive safely.
  3. Research the implications of drowsy driving. DriverLab will help address the associations between major sleep disorders (such as sleep apnea) and driving performance, and develop methods for preventing, detecting, and diverting drowsy driving.
  4. Determine the full effects of automated driving systems. DriverLab will evaluate the impact of modern car safety systems, semi-autonomous vehicle features, and driverless cars. Watch our video: Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Scientific Director, AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE), explains how DriverLab will support the research goals of AGE-WELL as it relates to transportation and new technologies for seniors.
  5. Reduce driving simulator sickness. DriverLab will help develop optimized driving simulation technologies, for testing centres to use for driver training and testing purposes.

Technology of DriverLab

Using a vehicle (Audi A3), a 360-degree projector system, and a 7-degrees-of-freedom hydraulic motion platform, DriverLab will immerse drivers in a high-resolution virtual environment, complete with surround sound. One-of-a-kind features include a weather simulator (to produce real rain droplets on the windshield) and a glare simulator (to recreate the harsh glare of oncoming headlights). Virtual scenery takes drivers into the city, country, and highway, during the day and at night.

About Our Funding Partners

DriverLab is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Government of Ontario, and Toronto Rehab Foundation. DriverLab was developed with the assistance of International Development of Technology (IDT) BV, the Netherlands.

About Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

As the world-leading rehabilitation research centre, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute is developing practical solutions to prevent illness and accidents, restore function following a disabling event, and to enable people to continue to live in their own homes and communities as they age. It integrates innovative patient care, ground breaking research and diverse education to build healthier communities and advance the role of rehabilitation in the health system. Toronto Rehab, along with Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and The Michener Institute of Education at UHN is a member of the University Health Network and is affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media Contact

Phone: 416 340 4636

Back to Top