06. April 2020 : New publication on VR application in scientific research and data acquisition:
Nezami FN, Wächter MA, Pipa G and König P (2020). Project Westdrive: Unity city with self-driving cars and pedestrians for virtual reality studies. DOI:10.3389/fict.2020.00001. Front ICT 7:1
Virtual environments will deeply alter the way we conduct scientific studies on human behavior. Possible applications range from spatial navigation over addressing moral dilemmas in a more natural manner to therapeutic applications for affective disorders. Until now, however, programming a suitable environment in Unity® requires profound knowledge of C# programming, 3D design, and computer graphics.
In order to give interested research groups access to a realistic VR environment which can easily adapt to the varying needs of experiments, we developed a large, open source, scriptable, and modular VR city. The repository presented here contains a stand-alone City AI toolkit for creating avatars and customizing cars, and it contains code to easily set up VR studies.
In summary, the project named Westdrive is developed to enable research groups to access a state-of-the-art VR environment that is easily adapted to specific needs and allows focus on the respective research question.