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Thursday , 13 June 2024

Driving Simulators Transforming Drivers’ Training

 

“From our customers’ experience, we know that with TecknoSim Driving Simulators, driving schools not only recover their money invested on the simulator within six to eight months of installation, but their revenues too are much high er than the average driving schools and training institutes.”- Shantanu Gupta.

Simulators are of various kinds. High end simulators give the trainee a very realistic experience of driving with a complete car, often mounted on a moving base that can be moved in all directions giving the driver a 360 degree vision of the road. This also gives a very life-like imitation of actions such as accelerating, going around sharp bends and braking. At the lower end, the simulators consist of one PC, one screen and a steering wheel. Gupta informs, “Training of drivers is mostly done on still platform systems with non-motion simulators. For advanced training and skill development, high-fidelity or motion platform simulators become really important.”

“Faults committed by the learner during the training session can be recorded and analysed later for feedback. Such tight loop feedback can enhance the driving skills of the learners significantly ensuring that they learn only the best practices.”- Ashok Atluri.

An issue that arises with drivers being trained on a simulator is the Simulator Adaptation Syndrome (SAS). The main cause of Simulator Adaptation Syndrome is the delay between the driver’s command and the response of the simulator. The greater the deviation of the simulator response from that of a real car or vehicle, greater is what is known as the “adaptation burden” on the brain. In large deviations, the drivers may experience motion sickness, headaches and disorientation. The “adaptation” in SAS relates to the brain accepting these simulators’ disparities relative to a real vehicle and slowly changing its reference point to that of the simulation. Gupta is of the opinion that the effects of SAS can be reduced “by minimising the simulator’s system delays and rendering all the cues economically possible”. He says, “We have no such complaints so far, as we have carefully rendered the images of our simulators at a speed of 60 FMS making it close to reality.”

Many driving schools in India do not train drivers in good driving techniques. As Vinayak Joshi, a defensive driving trainer points out, “The first question that some driving schools ask the prospective drivers is: ‘what licence do you want to make’, and not what they want to learn.” Driving simulators could fill this gap in driver training by not only training the drivers in the basics of driving but also in skills not taught in driving schools at present. For example, Zen Technologies’ Zen Driver’s Aptitude Testing System (Zen DATS) helps test psycho-motor functions of drivers. It identifies individuals prone to accidents by highlighting their psycho-motor deficiencies. Psycho-motor responses are responsible for a driver’s decisions and are generally referred to as ‘judgment’ while driving. DATS tests driver’s alertness, depth perception, peripheral vision, night vision and ability to recover quickly from the effects of glare. It can be used for yearly checks of all drivers to record changes, if any, from the earlier tests.

TecknoTrove focuses on five parameters while training drivers on its TecknoSim Simulators: hazard perception, dangers of drinking and driving, knowledge of traffic rules, basic driving skills and eco driving. Hazard Perception is an interactive drive aimed at familiarising the drivers with the most common crashes involving young people. By establishing what hazards are, how to anticipate them and strategies to avoid them, the trainees gain valuable knowledge, developing an attitude of safe driving. TecknoSim’s Alcohol impaired glasses enable the drivers to see the consequences of drinking and driving, but under completely safe conditions of a simulator. They are also given an opportunity to drive the simulator while using mobile phones to see the consequences of using mobile phones while driving. The Eco Driving module teaches the best driving practices to minimise the consumption of fuel and reduce the expense of driving. Using this module, the companies can reduce their expenses and fuel consumption by at least 15%.

With the pressing need for improving road safety and reducing accidents in the country, the future for driving simulators looks promising. Says Gupta, “The market for driver training simulators is now rolling. Having realised the cost benefit of using simulators for training and testing, major vehicle manufacturers/ OEMS are now actively setting up training institutes using driving simulators. The cost of setting up simulators based training institutes is quite low as there is no requirement of huge land and the training value is much higher. Simulator based training is now increasingly being adapted by fleet owners, logistic companies, car rental companies and local driving schools. We have over 450 successful installations and satisfied customers across India and in countries like Indonesia, Nigeria, UAE and Bangladesh.”

Zen Technologies manufactures a wide range of simulators for training of drivers. The Zen Driving Simulator (ZEN DS) is a versatile indoor, classroom driver training simulator which is used for training drivers of light, medium and heavy vehicles. It comes with the option of either Left or Right Hand drive. It is supplied with a single Instructor Station and a Driver Station and can control up to 10 Driver Stations of various combinations of vehicles, individually or simultaneously. The ZEN DS’s driver station has realistic controls, a seat for the driver and safety belt. The LCD screens display 3D CGI (Computer generated imagery) of different types of roads, traffic, terrains, environmental conditions and the rear mirrors’ views. The training curriculum in Zen DS logically progresses from control/ vehicle familiarisation to handling advanced, complex traffic conditions. The instructor can control the sessions, driving exercises, risky situations, monitor progress and continuously assess and evaluate the progress individually, selectively or collectively. The system continuously records the faults committed by the trainee. The instructor can inject on-line faults and obstacles to assess the reactions of trainees.

The Zen Bus Driving Simulator (ZEN BusSim) is a versatile indoor training system that trains bus drivers in varied skill-sets. The simulator uses a ‘to scale’ bus cabin with all gauges, controls, transmission systems and indicators found in a bus. The software recreates the typical environment in which bus drivers operate. The vehicle dynamics are replicated through mathematical modelling at the backend. The simulator has a bus cut-cabin mounted on a Motion Platform – a patented technology from Zen – that works on six Degrees of Freedom (6 DoF). The 6 DoF, i.e., pitch, roll, yaw, surge, sway and heave, are simulated quite realistically to ensure that learners get a real feel of an actual vehicle being driven.

The TecknoSim line of simulators from Technotrove are highly realistic replicas of the actual vehicles and are equipped with fully functional simulated instruments and controls. The replicated cab is mounted on a still or motion platform with a high-resolution display system and surround sound. Placed next to the simulator is an Instructor Operator Station that controls all the aspects of training and evaluation including setting scenarios, time of day and weather condition. Technotrove offers simulators for cars, trucks and buses. Tecknosim Car Simulators come in three variants. TecknoSim Desktop is a Smart Driving Simulator based on a gaming console, and is typically used for training groups of drivers because of the low cost of the hardware and high training value. TecknoSim DS is an intermediate level Simulator, and has an inbuilt instructor that trains the driver right from understanding the vehicle controls such as the steering wheel, gears, brakes, clutch and biting point, to driving skills like merging with traffic on city roads. TecknoSim C180, is an advanced driving simulator that trains and tests licensed car drivers in defensive driving and fuel efficiency. It also trains drivers in advanced skills such as driving at night, during fog and on hills and highways.

The TecknoSim T180 Truck Driving Simulator trains drivers of heavy vehicles such as trucks, trailers and tankers in safe driving Skills. More than 10,000 heavy vehicle drivers have been trained and tested on the T180, an important part of the course being training in fuel efficiency, enabling employers to make significant savings on their fuel bills. The T180 also comes in three options, with all of them giving a realistic representation of traffic noise, engine and the ambient environment. Technotrove also provides simulators for training bus and motorcycle drivers.

 

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