Development of an open-source tractor driving simulator for tractor stability tests

Nicolas Ochoa Lleras, Sean Brennan, Dennis Murphy, M. Jennifer Klena, Philip M. Garvey, H. J. Sommer

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

9 Scopus citations


Developing devices for stability monitoring and rollover alerts is a promising possibility to prevent overturn events, which pose a severe risk to tractor operators. However, performing relevant tests with operators in the field is dangerous and impractical. As an alternative, this work identifies the challenges of simulating a tractor driving environment in a laboratory and details the solutions put in place to develop a tractor driving simulator at Penn State University. The simulator includes an instrumented tractor cab mounted on a custom motion base, a 2.43 m tall, 360° high-definition screen, a sound system, and a nine-computer network running open-source software that can be used to conduct experiments and simulate driving scenarios relevant to tractor instabilities. The system is used for an experiment that evaluates the driver's ability to perceive tilt angles at various tilt and roll combinations. Pilot-test results show that roll and pitch are systematically overestimated, producing perceptual errors that are unbiased, independent for roll and pitch, and typically have magnitudes of 4°. These results can aid the development of instability monitoring systems by considering human tilt perception to set alert thresholds. Future projects and applications of the tractor driving simulator are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages20
Specialist publicationJournal of Agricultural Safety and Health
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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