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Immersive simulation


TRANSLIFE is an immer­sive vir­tu­al real­i­ty room used for research on informed inter­ac­tion. It is a four-faced CAVE™ (Cave Auto­mat­ed Vir­tu­al Envi­ron­ment), which can also be trans­formed into a more open three-faced installation.

TRANSLIFE was co-fund­ed by the Euro­pean Region­al Devel­op­ment Fund (ERDF) 2014–2010, and by the Hauts-de-France admin­is­tra­tive region. It became ful­ly oper­a­tional in March 2017.

There are two alter­na­tive configurations:

Mode 1

  • 4 faces (U‑shaped)
  • 3 glass screens (3.4m x 2.5m)
  • Paint­ed floor (3.4m x 3.4m)

Mode 2

  • 3 faces (L‑shaped)
  • 2 glass screens (3.4m x 2.5m + 6.8m x 2.5m) 
  • Paint­ed floor (7.0m x 3.4m)


  • 4 Pro­jecteurs 3D Christie Mirage 1920x1200
  • HP Z840 avec 2 Nvidia M5000
  • 20 x Vol­foni RF lunettes stéréo­scopiques actives
  • 10 caméras Opti­track autour du CAVE
  • Wand PS Move, Leap Motion, Raz­er Hydra
  • 5.1 sur­round


  • HTC Vive, Ocu­lus rift (DK1 and DK2)


A côté de TRANSLIFE, la salle Mini-MIXT est l’autre plate­forme de réal­ité virtuelle. C’est la ver­sion minia­ture de l’an­ci­enne plate­forme MIXT qui a lais­sé sa place à TRANSLIFE.

Car­ac­téris­tiques :

  • Pro­jecteur Optoma 3D 1080p 
  • 5 cam­eras Opti­track Prime 13 
  • PC avec Intel Xeon X5650 et Quadro 5000 
  • Lunettes stéréo­scopiques 3D Nvidia et Vol­foni RF

Tran­sONE is a suite of soft­ware tools that we use to adapt Unity3D appli­ca­tions for use on the TRANSLIFE plat­form and to devel­op new VR appli­ca­tions. Tran­sONE includes var­i­ous mod­ules that con­cern dif­fer­ent parts of the system:

  • CAVE: for man­ag­ing the dis­play and periph­er­al devices (such as the Wand and HTC Vive) 
  • Mocap: for mon­i­tor­ing movement
  • Feed­back: feed­back library (visu­als, sound, etc.)
  • Ges­tures: ges­ture library (includ­ing acqui­si­tion and management)


Respon­s­able sci­en­tifique | Indi­ra Thou­venin
Tél : 03 44 23 45 47
Mail :

Respon­s­able tech­nique | Yohan Bou­vet
Tél : 03 44 23 79 93
Mail :


Heudi­asyc has installed three plat­forms devot­ed to rail appli­ca­tions, to assist its research on depend­abil­i­ty and analy­sis of the human factor:

  • a rail super­vi­sion simulator
  • a train oper­a­tion sim­u­la­tor com­pli­ant with the Euro­pean ERTMS/ECMS sig­nalling norms
  • a autonomous train sim­u­la­tor for soft­ware development

The team’s research cen­tres around the analy­sis of human fac­tors (super­vi­sor and train oper­a­tor behav­iour). PhD can­di­dates make use of the plat­forms to fur­ther their var­i­ous research projects, some in rela­tion to the human fac­tor and human-machine relations.

The autonomous train sim­u­la­tor is ded­i­cat­ed to research work link­ing oper­a­tional safe­ty and on-board arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, in part­ner­ship with the IRT Raile­ni­um as part of the Autonomous Freight Train project.

Train­ing in sim­u­la­tor use is offered to rail pro­fes­sion­als pur­su­ing a voca­tion­al mas­ter’s degree. In addi­tion, Heudi­asy­c’s rail super­vi­sion plat­forms receive numer­ous vis­its from indus­try and acad­e­mia, by peo­ple eager to learn more about this valu­able resource.

The plat­form is thus used for both research and edu­ca­tion. The sim­u­la­tors can be used to val­i­date sce­nar­ios that have been iden­ti­fied in the­o­ry by depend­abil­i­ty analy­ses of sociotech­ni­cal systems.

Parent institutions

Our partners

  • Hauts-de-Franc admin­is­tra­tive region
  • Euro­pean Union (FEDER)
  • IFSTTAR (Insti­tut Français des Sci­ences et Tech­nolo­gies des Trans­ports, de l’Aménagement et des Réseaux) which pos­sess­es the same ERTMS/ETCS sim­u­la­tor as ours. The two sim­u­la­tors can be con­nect­ed for coop­er­a­tive sim­u­la­tions in super­vi­sion tests involv­ing a num­ber of dis­trib­uted PCCs and RBCs.
  • LAMIH (Lab­o­ra­toire d’Automatique, de Mécanique et d’Informatique Indus­trielles et Humaines – Uni­ver­sité de Valen­ci­ennes et du Hain­aut-Cam­bré­sis): joint research projects (PhD theses).
  • Hitachi Rail STS: inter­na­tion­al mar­ket leader in rail sig­nalling and inte­grat­ed sys­tems for pas­sen­ger and freight trans­port. Hitachi STS sup­plied our rail super­vi­sion sim­u­la­tor and plays an active teach­ing role in our rapid tran­sit and rail mas­ter’s degree.
  • ENPC (Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées): part­ner and coor­di­na­tor of the advanced Mas­ter in Rail­way and Urban Trans­port Sys­tem Eninnering.
  •  IRT Raile­ni­um : Tech­no­log­i­cal insti­tute of rail­way research, part­ner in var­i­ous research projects (the­ses) and indus­tri­al projects.

ERTMS train operation simulator

The ERTMS (Euro­pean Rail Traf­fic Man­age­ment Sys­tem) train oper­a­tion sim­u­la­tor was devel­oped by the ERSA soft­ware engi­neer­ing company.

The sys­tem com­pris­es a sce­nario con­trol sta­tion and four dri­ver sta­tions, two of which have dual 3D dis­plays. It is rare for any research lab­o­ra­to­ry or uni­ver­si­ty to have more than one or two dri­ver sta­tions. Con­se­quent­ly, the Heudi­asyc sim­u­la­tor, which allows up to four train oper­a­tors to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly take part in a sce­nario, is among the most sig­nif­i­cant aca­d­e­m­ic rail sim­u­la­tors in Europe.

Human-machine interface simulator

The ERTMS/ETCS sys­tem is com­pli­ant with Base­line 2 of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s ERTMS/ETCS norm. The sim­u­la­tor repro­duces ECTS (Euro­pean Train Con­trol Sys­tem) cab­in sig­nal dis­plays on a DMI (Dis­play Machine Inter­face), just as they would be dis­played in an ERTMS-equipped train.

ETCS system

The sim­u­la­tor’s ETCS sys­tem has a mod­ule for dis­play­ing speed pro­file curves, mean­ing that changes in speed com­put­ed for a giv­en autho­rized move­ment can be visu­al­ized graph­i­cal­ly. It is also pos­si­ble to visu­al­ize RBC logs. (Real ETC­Ss do not offer these displays.)

Scenario control station

The sce­nario con­trol sta­tion is used for:

  • cre­at­ing track lay­outs for scenarios
  • defin­ing series of events con­sti­tut­ing scenarios 
  • super­vis­ing the move­ment of trains as sce­nar­ios are played out

Track lay­outs for sce­nar­ios are com­plete­ly con­fig­urable with respect to their char­ac­ter­is­tics (length, track type, num­ber of par­al­lel tracks, bends, speed pro­files, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, types of light sig­nals, side pan­els, etc.) and to their envi­ron­ment (num­ber of sta­tions, type of envi­ron­ment (rur­al, urban, for­est, etc.)). Like­wise, the char­ac­ter­is­tics of trains fea­tur­ing in sce­nar­ios are con­fig­urable (weight, accel­er­a­tion, brak­ing, iner­tia, length, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, etc.). Sce­nar­ios may be played out entire­ly man­u­al­ly (super­vi­sion, reser­va­tion of can­tons, move­ment autho­riza­tions, train oper­a­tion), or auto­mat­i­cal­ly (whether total­ly or par­tial­ly). In the case of auto­mat­ic sce­nar­ios, a timetable is required.

3D rendering

To obtain the most real­is­tic sim­u­la­tion pos­si­ble, the plat­form is equipped with two sta­tions capa­ble of ren­der­ing scenes in 3D. As sce­nar­ios play out, these two sta­tions dis­play the view from the cab­in of one of the trains involved. An inde­pen­dent view that can be pilot­ed using a key­board is also available.

Rail supervision simulator

The rail super­vi­sion sim­u­la­tor, or RCCS (Route Con­trol Cen­tre Sys­tem) was devel­oped by Ansal­do STS. It is a faith­ful repro­duc­tion of the rail con­trol cen­tre at Ash­ford in south east Eng­land that super­vis­es rail traf­fic on the High Speed One line between Lon­don St Pan­cras and Eurotunnel.

The sim­u­la­tor com­pris­es five workstations:

  • a sim­u­la­tion con­trol station 
  • two sig­naller (or switch­ing) interfaces 
  • a super­vi­sor interface 
  • a main­te­nance interface

These sta­tions are all linked to a vir­tu­al machine that emu­lates the serv­er in oper­a­tion at Ashford.

Signaller stations

The two sig­naller sta­tions present a detailed view of all the events on the line. The sig­nallers con­trol the itin­er­aries reserved for indi­vid­ual trains and the posi­tion of each one, as well as all the track, sig­nals, points, occu­pa­tion of plat­forms, etc. The reser­va­tion of itin­er­aries is man­aged auto­mat­i­cal­ly by the ARS (Auto­mat­ic Route Set­ting) sys­tem, accord­ing to train sched­ules (times, types, stops, etc.), but the oper­a­tors can inter­vene man­u­al­ly at any moment.

Supervisor interface

The super­vi­sor inter­face (or timetable) offers a com­plete pic­ture of rail traf­fic, both spa­tial­ly and tem­po­ral­ly. The graph­ic dis­played is gen­er­at­ed in rela­tion to the day of oper­a­tion. The fac­tor that makes man­ag­ing this line par­tic­u­lar­ly com­plex is that it is used by both high-speed Eurostars (pink lines) and slow­er sub­ur­ban trains (blue lines). Train itin­er­aries may be dis­played and quick­ly mod­i­fied via this inter­face, all mod­i­fi­ca­tions being trans­mit­ted to the ARS system.

Maintener interface

The main­ten­er inter­face dis­plays all alerts relat­ing to the oper­a­tion of equip­ment and of the sys­tem, such as fail­ures of points or sig­nals, fail­ures to com­mu­ni­cate with trains, etc.

Autonomous freight train simulator

The lab­o­ra­to­ry was equipped with an autonomous freight train sim­u­la­tor in spring 2019 to work on Autonomous Freight Train project in part­ner­ship with IRT Raile­ni­um. This equip­ment is part of the CPER pro­gram, fund­ed by the region Hauts-de-France and FEDER. The sim­u­la­tor is an Oktal Sydac real­i­sa­tion. It is, to our knowl­edge, the first one in Europe.

The sim­u­la­tor is made with a train­ing train dri­ving sim­u­la­tor, used by SNCF dri­vers, to guar­an­tee the sig­nalling con­for­mi­ty and the on-board equip­ment func­tion­ing. The sim­u­la­tion soft­ware is mod­i­fied to inte­grate the essen­tial ele­ments for the devel­op­ment of an ATO (Auto­mat­ic Train Oper­a­tion) and allow this third-par­ty appli­ca­tion to inter­act with the train and its environment.

The driver’s console and command systems

The con­trol pan­el faith­ful­ly repro­duces the train con­trols by com­bin­ing phys­i­cal con­trols and vir­tu­al con­trols on two touch screens. Addi­tion­al cus­tomis­able but­tons allow inter­ac­tions with the third-par­ty appli­ca­tion (ATO). There­fore, the sim­u­lat­ed train can be dri­ven man­u­al­ly, par­tial­ly in autonomous mode (using ADAS) or ful­ly in autonomous mode. It is equipped with KVB, TVM and ERTMS / ETCS (lev­els 1 and 2) on board sig­nalling sys­tems, as well as stan­dard secu­ri­ty sys­tems: RSO, DAAT, SAL and SAR.

Simulation scripting

The sim­u­la­tor is ful­ly con­fig­urable. The rail­ways are editable to respond to all sce­nar­ios. Ground sig­nalling sys­tem com­plies with French stan­dards and includes most of the ele­ments of mechan­i­cal, fixed and light sig­nalling. A 3D objects library allows rail­ways cre­ation, that helps us to test the train in many kinds of environments.

The event man­age­ment sys­tem allows dif­fer­ent types of sit­u­a­tions and haz­ards to be generated:

  • Weath­er change (clear, cloudy, rainy, snow, mist, fog)
  • Evo­lu­tion of the sce­nario at var­i­ous times of the day (day and night over 24 hours)
  • Appear­ance of a 3D object on the track (obsta­cles: rock, car, pedes­tri­ans, ani­mals, reclin­ing tree, etc.)
  • Sig­nal failures
  • Anom­alies on the convoy
  • On-board equip­ment failure

Trains can be set up with dif­fer­ent types of cars. Vir­tu­al sen­sors can be installed on the main train. The main sen­sors for autonomous robot­ics can be used: GPS, radar, lidar, cam­eras, night cameras.


Respon­s­able sci­en­tifique | Wal­ter Schön
Tél : 03 44 23 44 83
Mail :

Respon­s­able tech­nique | Yohan Bou­vet
Tél : 03 44 23 79 93
Mail :