JOAN: software for human-in-the-loop experiments in a virtual driving simulator

Developed by: Joris Giltay, Olger Siebinga, Andre van der Kraan, Timo Melman, and Niek Beckers
Operational since: 2020

Driving simulators are invaluable tools for studying the interactions between humans and automated vehicles. However, conventional research-grade driving simulators often require specialized (and expensive) hardware, a steep programming curve, or have limited capabilities in simulating complex traffic situations involving multiple agents (including pedestrians and other automated vehicles). Game development platforms such as Unity or Unreal offer virtual environments with high levels of realism and can run on consumer-grade computer hardware, which has spurred the development of driving simulators using these game engines. Most of the popular game engine-based simulators are built mainly for the development of fully automated driving algorithms. CARLA, for example, is an Unreal Engine-based simulator specifically built for automated driving algorithm development (without human interaction) and supports complex traffic scenarios involving multiple automated agents. However, CARLA does not provide support for conducting human-in-the-loop experiments.

We developed JOAN, a software framework for human-automated vehicle interaction experiments using CARLA. JOAN facilitates the design and execution human-in-the loop experiments in CARLA, including connecting human input devices, logging data, and handling the communication with CARLA. As the Delft Haptics Lab specializes in haptic shared control, we also provide support for connecting a haptic steering wheel (a Sensodrive SensoWheel SD-LC, in our case). Users can select two pre-made haptic controllers (a PD controller or a Four Design Choice Architecture haptic controller), or can program their own haptic controller.

The code is open-source and available here. We also provide detailed documentation. We welcome users to explore JOAN, and we would be happy to answer any questions, or consider any improvements we can make. Contact us through

JOAN is part of our portable driving simulator setup, which includes a SensoWheel SD-LC haptic steering wheel and Virtual Reality goggle. The portable driving simulator is developed for the VIDI project on Symbiotic Driving.



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