[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 10:21 GMT
Drivers on road in virtual suburb
Bus passengers
Next stop...Firsdon
It may not be on the AtoZ but trainee bus drivers are having to negotiate their way around the busy roads of Firsdon in often treacherous weather.

Firsdon is a specially-designed virtual reality London suburb complete with pedestrians, cyclists and traffic.

The weather and traffic can be controlled to create scenarios to test drivers as part of their training.

The simulator at Willesden Junction bus depot in north-west London will be used from Tuesday.

Drivers will see detailed graphics when they look through the windscreen and rear-view mirrors and if they run into the kerb the wheels will judder.

Driving the simulator feels uncannily real, especially if you are familiar with the areas of London that are reproduced
Andy Thompson, Transport for London

A separate control console allows trainers to interact by changing traffic signals, making roads busier and even controlling virtual pedestrians.

The facility funded by Transport for London (TfL) and bus operator First has been specially adapted for London's buses, down to the look and feel of the cab.

Firsdon's layout is based on generic London streets, while its bus depot is a virtual replica of one at Westbourne Park, and its bus station is a computerised version of Walthamstow station.

Safety studies show simulators can reduce preventable accidents by as much as 43%, according to TfL.

Andy Thompson, performance manager at TfL, said: "Driving the simulator feels uncannily real, especially if you are familiar with the areas of London that are reproduced in the bus station and depot.

"I firmly believe that the chance to improve driving skills in the simulator as well as on the road will make a difference, not only to new bus drivers, but existing ones too."




SEE ALSO:
Virtual club to rock pop culture
02 Nov 05 |  Technology
Sun to light bus stops at night
21 Sep 05 |  London


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific