The Drivometer

A device for simulating driving, and measuring the skill of drivers, which was developed at Iowa State's Driving Research Laboratory in the 1930s.

A description of what it felt like to operate the thing. It sounds like it would have made a good arcade game. From The Dalles Chronicle - Aug 21, 1936:

Dr. Alvan R. Lauer of Iowa State college sent here today a shiny red instrument of torture, designed apparently to give the ordinary, garden-variety motorist the everlasting willies. This device, which Dr. Lauer invented and christened the drivometer, insidiously reverses the usual laws of nature and turns them wrong side forward. The drivometer consists essentially of an automobile which doesn’t move, and a landscape which does, at 50 miles an hour. Imagine that, if you can! We couldn’t either, until the American Automobile association persuaded us to sit behind the wheel. The road twisted like a hula dancer – and we were supposed to steer down it, paying close attention to stop lights, warning signals, WPA men working, and hot dog stands. Never before have we had such a ride. We knocked a truck off the road. We ran down a farmer’s daughter and we wrecked his house. We whanged into a freight train, jumped across a mountain range, drove through a lake and smashed an ice cream shoppe into tutti-frutti. We tried to stop the thing, but everything we pressed made it go faster. We shifted into reverse and raced to the rear, bumping barns, beats and bicycles. Sadly shaking his head, Earl Allgaier, the AAA safety expert, turned off the current. He said we didn’t seem to be very well coordinated, somehow, but that he’d test us on his other machinery. This, together with the drivometer, will be taken on a nationwide tour beginning next week to prove to the average motorist that he’s got a lot to learn.

Update: I think the top picture shows the 2nd version of the Driveometer, developed in the 1950s. The original version, from the 1930s, is below.

Wausau Daily Herald - Oct 26, 1937

     Posted By: Alex - Tue May 09, 2017
     Category: Motor Vehicles | Cars | Science | 1930s

I'm pretty sure that the modern version is called "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."
Posted by KDP on 05/09/17 at 08:22 AM
The current version(s) at Iowa State are the National Advanced Driving Simulator Mark I (NADS-1) with 13 different degree-of-freedom motion base resulting in the largest motion envelope of any driving simulator in the United States and 2nd largest in the world. It also has the NADS-2 with uses a fixed car looking at forward projectors only and no actuators, and the miniSim which is a modern electronic version of the 2nd photo.
Posted by Mike on 05/09/17 at 12:00 PM
Mike -- That's amazing! Thanks for sharing that.
Posted by Alex on 05/09/17 at 04:19 PM
I'd really like to drive that one at Iowa. But, I'm guessing a quarter wouldn't buy me in.
Posted by Virtual on 05/09/17 at 09:26 PM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.