Guest Column | November 8, 2018

Virtual Reality In Training Simulators Entices Generation Of Truckers For Advancing ‘Amazon' Age

By John Kearney, Advanced Training Systems

Telematics In Trucking

Thanks to the growth of eCommerce, companies spent a record $1.5 trillion on shipping costs in 2017. Retailers and manufacturers credit the ‘Amazon Age’ for the struggle to keep goods moving to consumers — a struggle compounded by the critical shortage of truck drivers in the U.S. Fortunately there is a virtual light at the end of the tunnel for freight delivery.

Yesterday the American consumer went to the store and bought goods. Today eCommerce enables us to order online and have the goods delivered to our door in record time; same day in some instances. The Amazon Age, as this wave of consumerism is nicknamed, has generated a record spend of $1.5 trillion in shipping costs in 2017. One of the biggest problems we have in the delivery of customer goods is the delivery itself. The world of delivery is about timing — and delivery time is often the driving factor that makes the final sales decision.

The flip side of this economic key points to a U.S. trucking industry facing a shortage of drivers, with a need to hire 900,000 new operators by 2028 simply to maintain the workforce. The workforce is retiring in great numbers and more drivers are needed in short order. Consumers are in the driver’s seat.

The new generation of future truck drivers have grown up with video games and, as a result, virtual reality is part of their sensory learning pattern. They are demanding technology to let them experience efficient and safe long-haul trucking, increase interest, and make the decision to onboard with the nation’s freight companies and retailers. While simulation has been used for pilot training and in healthcare for years, the supply chain on the ground has been slow to adapt.

Virtual Reality Simulator (VRSim) Systems have come of age in driving and delivery with the development of much lower cost virtual reality and augmented reality. The cost savings are huge when you look at the big picture. Advanced technology simulators save gas, oil, insurance, repairs, insurance, losses from claims when there is a wreck in a real truck, vehicle depreciation, space compared to a large truck, and adaptability to the changes in technology and changes required by regulations regarding driving and training drivers. The training is accomplished in less time with real truck driving and some classroom training.

There are functions that can only be taught properly and safely in a simulator such as a blown front tire, sliding on ice, snow, ice, wind, and other risks. Additional training such as a module on left turns will reduce the incident rate and also can prevent individual fallout and hesitation about entering the training programs. A high-tech simulator will teach them until they get it for sure, never get upset with their failures, and work for them 24 hours a day.

Let’s face it. People want to work for great companies with the best technology and training today. High tech simulators save money … money that can be re-allocated as corporate officers see fit.

What does the training look like? The system is taught either with goggles or with an array of screens. An individual would sit on a truck seat with a dashboard like an actual cab, with rear view mirrors that work and with all the same components such as the brake, turn signals, and other physical features encountered in a real truck. Several modules of instruction teach skills such as backing to a dock, parking a truck, entering a highway safely, and negotiating left and right turns. Attention to the road and how to anticipate issues that might be unsafe are very important.

If a trainee is told to drive 100 feet behind a vehicle at 50 miles an hour he or she will have a reference to the experience. But if a trainee is put in a simulator and drives 60 miles per hour at 100 feet — and hits the vehicle — they will learn something that they’ll not likely forget. It is a “world-of-driving event” that arms the driver with the ability to evolve in a changing environment into the safest driver on the highway.

There is a light at the end of the driver shortage tunnel; virtual reality and real motion technology to train the next generation of drivers that will deliver the nation’s goods.

About The Author

For over 30 years, John E. Kearney has worked as a training expert with the largest U.S. commercial driver training companies, resulting in the successful professional training of over 100,000 students. Over the past decade, as founder of Advanced Training Systems LLC, he has worked with a group of the brightest minds in the field of simulation to create and patent the most advanced driver training simulators on the market. Advanced Training Systems (ATS) has cutting-edge adaptive training with virtual reality and patented technology that prevents or dramatically reduces the tendency to get sick in a simulator with extended training periods. The system has far more fidelity and results in real motion — like being in the real truck. For more information visit Advanced Training Systems.