We’re Off to See the Wizard!

In one of the most popular movies of all time, four heroes traverse through danger down a yellow brick road, battling flying monkeys and a wicked witch, all in search of a wizard to help them get that which they most desire.

Of course, it wasn’t that easy (or else it wouldn’t make a very exciting film), and the heroes of The Wizard of Oz discover that the almighty Wizard is (spoiler alert) simply some old guy hiding behind a curtain and pulling levers. Sure, he was an overall benevolent fella, but he didn’t make life easy for Dorothy and her friends. The Wizard ended up throwing obstacles in their path that made finding their way back home more difficult.

What’s The Wizard of Oz got to do with the STISIM Drive simulator? Think about it this way: in the driving simulator, the driver is just like Dorothy, following the yellow brick road, trying to get back home. The yellow brick road the driver is following? That’s the scenario that you, the designer, aka the Wizard, created.

This is the fun part. As the great and powerful Oz, you can program events within the scenario that will only occur if you tell them to. Just like the wizard in the movie, you can throw unexpected and random objects or tasks at the driver. In experimental circles, this is actually known as the “Wizard of Oz experiment”, and can be a very effective to elicit reactions from a driver.

For example, let’s say you’re a therapist working with a soldier who suffers from PTSD. While the soldier is driving, the Wizard of Oz capabilities can be used to add loud noises to the scenario, which, in turn, allows you to observe how they respond. Sure, these noises could also be part of your scripted scenario, but by using your wizardly capabilities, you get to decide when and where they will occur.

How to Use the Wizard of Oz Capabilities

To put your powers to good use, follow these three basic steps:

  1. Create small files that contain regular simulation events. These files could have single or multiple events in them. In our previous example, you may have a number of different files, each containing a single play recording event.
  2. In your main scenario file (the script that defines the roadway environment and all events that occur during the drive), add a Triggered Events event for each of the files that you created in step one. Refer to the Scenario Definition Language Events manual (C:\STISIM3\Help\ SDL_Events_Manual.pdf) for details.
  3. During the drive, whenever you want to launch one of your triggered events, simply find it in the Triggered Event List and click on it.

That’s all there is to it. The event will fire, and the driver will need to respond to whatever you added to the drive. It might seem sneaky to watch the driver and then throw something at them when they’re most vulnerable, but sometimes that’s the best way to get the responses you need.

The best part? This all happens within the driving simulator, and, no matter how the driver responds, just like the heroes in the movie, everyone lives happily ever after.