Driving simulators aimed at teaching safety to teens have been around forever, but at this week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Toyota is showing a distracted-driving device teens might actually consider cool.
It’s the TeenDrive365 distracted-driving simulator that uses Oculus Rift, the virtual reality system.
While past safety demos were typically held in arcade-style drivers’ seat mockups in front of screens, TeenDrive365 uses an actual car. It encourages teens to get behind the wheel of a stationary Toyota while wearing the Oculus Rift headset. Then, Toyota says, they are “fully immersed in a virtual reality driving experience, complete with the three-dimensional sights and sounds of a busy city street.”
The system uses the cars’ steering wheel and pedals. Users encounter distractions like traffic noise, a blaring radio, text messages. Of course, there are a few virtual friends along for the ride, bugging the driver from the back seat.
“Oculus Rift provides a virtual reality driving experience that mirrors real life behind the wheel, giving us a powerful, one-of-a-kind way to show parents and teens how everyday distractions can affect their ability to drive safely,” says Marjorie Schussel, Toyota corporate marketing manager.\