Lorry driver Alonzo Gregory is part of a digital drivers’ panel who have agreed to test new roads as an early stage of public consultation. Alonzo is keen to know what difference encountering these vehicles, which will have no cabs and can platoon in close formation, will make to how we drive.
Alonzo has been asked to take part in a virtual simulation of the new smart motorway section created from the digital twin. The simulation will test how the flow of autonomous HGVs emerging from the new slipway and merging with traffic on the planned smart motorway will work.
Alonzo connects his next-generation games console and virtual reality headset and opens the simulation. Inside the virtual world he drives an exact replica of his truck (the inside of the cab was even 3D scanned to make the model feel realistic). As he drives, the simulation introduces other traffic, including autonomous HGVs merging from the new road.
Created by the digital twin, the simulation provides an exact mirror of what the new road and upgraded smart motorway will look like. The console and VR headset monitor every aspect of Alonzo’s driving, including his reaction to other vehicles and the road. His eye movements, heart rate, and driving responses are all tracked. This rich source of data will be merged back into the digital twin and help to iron out any usability issues in the next stage of the highway design.