Virtual Reality App Can Help Drivers Understand the Question, "My Car Does What?"

A new survey from the National Safety Council found 39 percent of drivers with new safety technologies in their vehicles say sometimes their vehicles act in ways that scare or surprise them. To help educate drivers and understand new vehicle safety technologies, the Council and the University of Iowa have developed the first-of-its-kind virtual reality mobile phone app, CarTech VR360, which gives drivers a 360-degree tour of some of the safety systems so drivers have a better understanding how the technologies work.

The virtual reality app is part of the MyCarDoesWhat initiative, which the National Safety Council and the University of Iowa launched in 2015 to explain new vehicle technologies.

"This might be one of the few cell phone apps that help people be safer drivers," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "Virtual reality is more engaging than any owner's manual; we hope that people use the technology to discover all of the advanced driver assistance systems their vehicles have to offer."

"MyCarDoesWhat has endeavored to address all drivers—virtual reality is a novel medium sure to excite a new generation of road users," said Daniel McGehee, the principal investigator of the MyCarDoesWhat project and a professor in the University of Iowa's college of engineering and director of the National Advanced Driving Simulator.

Fatal car crashes are on the rise, claiming as many as 40,000 lives in 2016, according to National Safety Council preliminary estimates. Technology can help prevent crashes; however, drivers must understand these features and how they work in order to use them to their full potential.

The CarTech VR360 app – designed for both iOS and Android operating systems is free to download and explains six features:

  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Back-up camera
  • Lane departure warning
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Drowsiness alert

For the app on iTunes, go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cartech-vr360/id1200913564?mt=8

For the app on Android, go to https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.nsc.mcdwvr&hl=en