Is Virtual Reality the Future of Truck Driver Training?
There’s nothing quite like learning from experience. Drivers who want to make their living on the road need to be aware of all the hazards and hindrances they may face on the job.
For most drivers who are starting out, this means heading to trucking school for training. What do these schools offer? Like most other institutions, they offer a combination of academic classwork as well as hands-on training in the field.
While many of the actual driving portions of a trucking school curriculum take place in controlled environments such as on-site driving courses, the act of learning through doing is of great importance in the freight industry.
Normally, drivers who are training have a licensed person in the passenger seat. This allows them to get oversight and advice when they’re moving 10-20 ton machines down roads and around curves. While there is no substitute for this type of training, simulations are also valuable.
Simulations can help get a driver comfortable before they actually go behind the wheel. Even if the road training occurs in a controlled environment with supervision readily available, aspiring truckers can still benefit from practicing in a simulated environment as well.
The prospect of virtual reality has been around for decades, though it only took off heavily within the past decade. VR peripherals are popular for computers, mobile devices, and game systems. But the immersive technology may be making its way to the freight industry soon.
Some companies have already experimented with VR in their training programs. The devices can encourage drivers to follow best practices such as looking both ways before proceeding. It also provides a more realistic view radius, encouraging trainees to look all around for pedestrians or other hazards before proceeding. The technology has been called the future of driver training by the co-founder of a VR-based training company dedicated to automotive industries.
Better training means carriers can take on a bit more risk. The resulting freedom may help curb the driver shortage, allowing carriers to staff their fleets with skilled talent. While VR won’t replace other aspects of the training process, it is a welcomed addition to the curriculums of many trucking schools.