Vehicle Simulation

Associate Professor P. R. Grant 
University of Toronto
Institute for Aerospace Studies
4925 Dufferin St., Ontario, Canada M3H 5T6

Phone: +1-416-667-7726
Fax: +1-416-667-7799
Email: prgrant (at)


  • Ph.D. – University of Toronto
  • M.A.Sc. – University of Toronto
  • B.A.Sc. – University of Manitoba

Research Overview

Professor Grant’s research areas include flight dynamics, flight simulation, the virtual flight test facility, and human control of vehicles. His current research is focused on the development of ground-based simulators for upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT), the impact of structural flexibility on aircraft handling qualities and modeling of human motion perception and control. Professor Grant has also been actively involved in driving simulation research and has written motion drive software for the US National Advanced Driving simulator, as well as for Toyota’s state-of-the-art dynamic driving simulator.

Aircraft safety is the primary motivation for Professor Grant’s research. First, a large percentage of commercial aircraft accidents are triggered by unexpected aircraft upsets. Due to the fidelity limitations of current flight simulators and safety concerns in real aircraft, pilots have very little training on how to successfully recover from upset conditions. The current upset recovery project is studying ways to improve simulators such that meaningful training can take place. Second, environmental concerns are leading to new aircraft designs that are likely to have: (i) increased structural flexibility compared to previous designs, (ii) unconventional dynamic behavior. The aircraft flexibility project is aimed at understanding how aircraft flexibility will affect the pilot’s ability to precisely and safely control the aircraft. Professor Grant’s research group is also investigating the handling qualities of unconventional aircraft designs such as the blended-wing body (BWB). Although closed-loop control can modify the BWB dynamic response such that it is similar to a conventional aircraft, it is still important to understand how pilots will interact with the bare-airframe dynamic response of these new aircraft.

The UTIAS Flight Research Simulator is one of a few university owned motion-based flight simulators in the world. It allows the researchers at UTIAS to experimentally validate improvements in simulator fidelity and it can act as a surrogate for new aircraft designs, thereby allowing researchers to measure human control behavior/performance while flying simulations of these new designs in a virtual environment. In addition, the simulator enables the group’s ongoing investigation into a basic understanding of human motion perception and control.

Recently completed projects include the following: An extended B747 flight model that realistically predicts the behavior of the aircraft at and beyond stall was developed and tested. The model includes reduced lateral and directional stability, reduced effectiveness of controls and asymmetric roll-off beyond stall. A new adaptive motion drive algorithm was also developed for UPRT that can produce realistic motion cues during the extreme motions encountered during upsets. A set of experiments using this new algorithm determined that good roll cueing leads to improved pilot control but reduced subjective fidelity due to the increased lateral side force errors. Therefore a careful trade-off between the two motions is required for UPRT. A recent human motion perception study found that translational motion perception tends to follow Weber’s law whereby the just-noticeable-difference (JND) is linearly related to the size of the base stimulus. These results are being used to develop Bayesian models of human motion perception.