The simulator is a tool to help you test Simply Connect and experiment with different portions of the system without needing to take up time from real-life drivers. Furthermore, if you’re considering a new on-demand transport service, you can leave a simulation running over a longer period of time, with journeys automatically booked from random positions within your service area.
Without the simulator, when you create a new location you would not be able to book any journeys without installing the driver app on a real device and sending a driver out driving with it (because there would be no vehicles available to collect the passenger). The simulator – at its most basic – can simulate the movement of multiple vehicles, each of which follows the same directions that would be given to real drivers.
The simulator is an area of active development – and more features may come in future that improve the accuracy of longer-running simulations.
The simulator can simulate multiple drivers and passengers at the same time. To do this, you need to first create a simulated driver and/or passenger from the simulator.
The simulator is found within the Management Console. To access it, click on Simulator in the left hand menu of the Management Console.
The entire management console is designed for desktop or laptop screens (not mobiles or tablets), and we strongly recommend using it from a screen of at least 1600×900 resolution.
Whilst in other parts of the management console you might get away with a slightly smaller screen than what we recommend, the simulator heavily depends on a sufficiently sized screen and it can become uncomfortable and impractical to use on a small screen.
When you first open the simulator for a new location, you will see a blank area with a notice indicating that there are no simulated drivers or passengers, and a link back to this help page.
Each simulated user (whether passenger or driver) exists in its own window within the simulator. You can drag this window around by its top bar, as well as maximising, minimising and closing it.
To create a new simulated user, click on the + symbol by either “Drivers” or “Passengers” in the white bar on the left hand side of the simulator.
When the next simulated user window opens, you will be given a choice between naming the simulated user with a random name and gender or providing your own choice of name and gender.
You can only create simulated passengers when the location is in automatic mode. We have chosen to show screenshots of the simulated passengers alongside those of simulated drivers, for future reference and for readers who chose to create their location in automatic mode. However, if the location is in manual mode (as is suggested while getting familiar with Simply Connect), you will not be able to create a simulated passenger yet.
You can still book journeys for testing from the passenger app while the location is in manual mode.
When you click “Create user” on the respective simulated driver or passenger window, we will create a new user – either with the name and gender you specified or with a random name, gender and photo . With only a few minor differences, the simulated user created is basically the same as a normal user. However, you cannot log into the passenger or admin apps as a simulated user.
If you now try to book a journey – either from a simulated passenger if the location is in automatic mode – or from the passenger app if the location is in either mode, you will still find that there are no available vehicles to carry the passenger. This is because your new simulated driver is not on a shift.
Drivers are only considered available to transport one or more groups of passengers when they are on shift. Administrators can create and manage driver shifts from the admin app.
To create a new shift for your new simulated driver, click on the icon of the calendar (second from right) in the bottom right of the simulated driver window. When adding shifts, remember that shift times are shown in the time zone of your location, which might not be the same as your computer’s time zone. Once you’ve created a shift, it should appear in the shift list.
Having created at least one on-shift driver, you will now be able to book journeys in this location. Remember that if you return another day and find you are no longer able to book journeys, it might be that the simulated driver has gone off shift.
You can create multiple simulated drivers, each with different shifts, if you wish.
Simulated driver and passenger windows require a lot of system resources from your computer. If you find your computer running slowly whilst the simulator is in use, consider minimising or closing unnecessary simulated users.
There are three other features of simulated drivers that are worth mentioning here.
It is worth mentioning that the simulated driver window in the simulator is not the same as the driver app. Whilst some visual similarities exist, the driver app is aimed at being used within a vehicle and it carries out additional functionality aimed at the driver. The simulated driver window, by contrast, contains a more limited set of functionality that is aimed at testing and desk-based simulation.
You can control the speed that each simulated driver travels at. You can use this for various reasons, such as if you wish to simulate an unexpected traffic delay for one of your vehicles. To access this setting, click the gear icon (fourth icon from right in the simulated driver window).
Ever fancied having a vehicle that could apparate? Now you can. If, while using the simulator, you decide it would more useful to put a vehicle in a different place on the map, click the icon of the map with a pin (third icon from right in the simulated driver window) and – on the new screen that opens – drag the pin to a new position within the area you serve and click Save. The vehicle will be instantly moved to the new position, without having to drive there on the road.
We’ll cover this in more detail when we look at the driver app. However, be aware that the tablet icon (the right-most icon in the simulated driver window) opens a QR code that can be scanned by the driver app if you want to use the driver app in simulated mode. Using the driver app in simulated mode means that the driver app will use the simulated location and shifts of one of the simulated drivers, rather than the real location of a real driver and vehicle.
Simulated passengers are simpler than simulated drivers; however, there are still some features worth mentioning.
Firstly, each simulated passenger can either be set to manual or automatic bookings. When set to manual bookings, you need to type a departure point and destination to book a journey from and to. When set to automatic bookings, the Simply Connect software will pick random positions within your service area as the origin and destination point of each journey. It will book journeys automatically at spaced intervals.
Unfortunately you cannot currently set the arrival and departure time for journeys on the simulator. If you need to specify journey time requirements for a simulated journey, we suggest you book the journey from a normal user from the passenger app (which asks for an earliest departure or latest arrival time).
In the very top right of the screen, to the right of the location selector, you will see a button with a set of cogs. This opens the simulator settings.
The simulator settings in general are self explanatory. There are settings that change how units are displayed in the simulator only.
There is also a default driver speed. This affects only the speed setting for new simulated drivers – it does not update the speed of existing simulated drivers.
Below the default driver speed are options on whether to “auto-board” and “auto-alight” passengers. When using Simply Connect in a real-life system, the driver must indicate on the driver app when passengers have boarded and alighted the vehicle. Within the simulator, to allow simulations to continue in an unattended manner, simulated passengers by default board and alight automatically within a certain time of their vehicle reaching the pick-up or drop-off point. You can use these settings to control whether auto-boarding and alighting happens at all, and if enabled then what default time should be allowed for the simulated passenger to get into, or out of, the vehicle.
Finally, you can control the rate at which journeys are auto-booked. If you set this to zero you will disable auto-booking entirely.
When you close the simulator window or navigate to another part of the management console, any simulated journeys will continue in the background on our systems. You can also shut down your computer and come back another day, and your simulations will have continued to run. Further, if you have selected to have automatic journey bookings, these will also continue in the background. You can open the simulator again later (on any computer) to see the current progress of simulated journeys.
To stop bookings being automatically made, you should change the overall simulator settings to prevent automatic booking, change each driver to “Book manually” mode, or close each driver.
Before continuing, we recommend you try out the simulator and book a simulator journey – either using the passenger app, or (if your location is in automatic mode) by creating a simulated passenger.
Once you’ve done this, head to the settings tab on the left-hand menu and follow along on the next page for a discussion of the most important location settings.
Wondering who the people in the photos of simulated users are of?
When we create a simulated user, we use a computer generated image such as the one on the left as a profile photo.
Normally, the images come out well. Occasionally, however, blemishes or other errors appear in the image.
We create names for new simulated users using randomly picked entries from a list of names known to be in use in the United Kingdom.