Effect of Age on Learning to Drive a Virtual Coal Mine Shuttle Car

Christine M. Zupanc1, *, Robin Burgess-Limerick2, Guy Wallis1
1 School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Australia
2 Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Australia

Article Metrics

CrossRef Citations:
Total Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 906
Abstract HTML Views: 1458
PDF Downloads: 205
Total Views/Downloads: 2569
Unique Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 436
Abstract HTML Views: 733
PDF Downloads: 144
Total Views/Downloads: 1313

Wallis et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia QLD, 4072, Australia; Tel: +610733656240; Fax: +610733656877; E-mail:


Many control devices produce movements that can be described as compatible, that is, movement of the control in one direction results in a congruent movement in the system. However, not all devices adhere to this direct relationship between control movement and system response. This study investigates age and practice effects on error and reaction times for a real-world vehicle steering system in which steering is not consistently compatible. A virtual reality simulation analogous to an underground coal mine shuttle car was used to collect short term (experiment 1) and longer term (experiment 2) practice where trials alternate between compatible and incompatible, and then changed to consistently compatible. Fifteen young and 15 older male adults participated in experiment 1, and 7 young and 7 older male adults participated in experiment 2. Younger adults made fewer errors in incompatible trials than older adults in experiment 1. Error rate increased for both groups when the trials changed to consistently compatible. No differences in reaction time were found. With more practice, no differences in error rate were found between the groups (experiment 2). Both errors and reaction time increased when the the trials changed to consistently compatible. This research suggests that performance differences between male adults close to retirement age and younger male adults may dissipate after practice. Performance decrements were found when the control-response relationship changed from alternating compatibility to consistently compatible, therefore, care must be taken in redesigning incompatible controls when operators may have achieved a high level of expertise.

Keywords: Age effect, alternating compatibility, compatibility, control-response relationship, driving simulation, learning, steering.