A Canadian non-profit organization called Operation Lifesaver has tapped into something that all trucking companies could use as they try to attract a younger generation of truck drivers. That something is virtual reality, or VR. Imagine, instead of being on the tractor and stuck on the tracks in a railway crossing, you can experience what that is like in a VR setting. As the train approaches, what do you do? Training these principles in real-time is what younger truck drivers need.
VR-based truck driving training programs help truck drivers learn about real-world scenarios without putting them in a risky situation to learn in real life. The new program offered by Operation Lifesaver features VR videos that specifically test truck drivers response to railway crossing challenges and it can be a life-or-death scenario.
Imagine the truck driver feeling the emotion of the moment. What do they do? A railway collision can happen in a matter of seconds. Truck drivers need to be able to trust their instincts and make split-second choices and being able to see the outcome, in real-time and in a virtual setting, they get all the benefit without the potential tragedy.
What if a program like this were available through trade schools? We all know the best way to attract today’s youth into trucking is to appeal to what excites them. VR technology is an incredibly immersive and realistic way to train anyone anything without putting them or anyone around them in immediate danger.
In Canada, the program is built with two training scenarios. The first of which includes clear weather, but there is heavy traffic around the railway crossing. The second involves a clear road, but instead the truck driver is operating at night, in bad weather, and there are in-vehicle distractions complicating everything. All of this happens within their headset. Obviously, bus drivers would stand to benefit greatly from this system.
Although the program currently focuses on railway crossing incidents, the company building the platform could essentially program any situation into it. Truck drivers could learn just about any scenario where they must think fast in dangerous situations. There are so many ways this technology can be used.
Companies are already targeting the shop. VR systems in highly technical shops can provide technicians with a way to interact with parts. Augmented reality, as science fiction as it sounds, is already becoming science fact in the truck shop.
VR is huge in China right now. According to a Bloomberg report, China’s VR market will be $8.5 billion in 2019. Yet, the United States is not too far behind. The best-selling VR unit sells around 100,00 units on Amazon per month. There certainly is a future for this technology and the trucking industry needs to be at the forefront of it.
UPS has already begun to adopt the technology at every training center. Heavy-duty trucking companies are looking at several companies who specializes in freight-related VR systems. Still, the systems are not cheap. At between $60,000 and $100,000 a-piece, not every trucking company can afford them. Trade schools may be able to afford one.
The most important thing is to keep technologies at the front of mind as prices drop. With greater adoption, more motor carriers will be able to afford them. These make great retention and safety-improving tools. When you are considering a fleet management or telematics solution, it could be you end up looking at virtual reality next.