06 September 2017
One of the world’s biggest parcel distributors is trialling virtual reality as a way of training its drivers, using strap-on headsets to simulate real life driving situations.
UPS is testing the headsets at its training facility in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, but says the concept could represent the future of its driver training worldwide, including the UK.
The 360-degree street scene projected inside the headset will help drivers learn UPS’s mandatory technique of looking left, right and then left again before proceeding through an intersection (or vice-versa for right-hand-drive markets like the UK). The virtual roadway also will teach drivers how to spot and avoid pedestrians and potential hazards.
The training tool will also appeal to younger people considering a driving career, the carrier claims, as it is better understood by the ‘digital generation’.
“Without a doubt, this is the future of driver training,” said Dominic Dobson, a retired racing driver and cofounder of VR Motion Corp, the Oregon-based company that has developed the VR system.
Tech-based driving training such as VR could help haulage companies combat the driver shortage by expanding the job openings for drivers to those who have done classroom rather than practical training.
UPS is adding VR to the week-long basic training course that all new drivers must attend before taking to the road, and it aims to have put 4,000 of its 65,000 worldwide drivers through VR simulators by the end of 2018.
Damian Toledo, a driver trainer at UPS’s Atlanta facility, believes drivers will like it because it resembles video games. “They’ll engage more, and that will make them a better driver and make us a safer organisation,” he said.