UPS adopts virtual reality to train drivers
August 29, 2017
UPS is to start training student delivery drivers to spot and identify road hazards using virtual reality (VR) headsets that vividly simulate the experience of driving on city streets while teaching a more memorable classroom lesson.
The company will begin launching VR training in September at its nine UPS Integrad training facilities. The adoption of VR for driver safety training reflects UPS’s commitment to using technology to protect its on-road employees and the communities they serve.
IT experts at UPS created the VR training modules that users see and hear inside VR headsets such as the HTC Vive. Students using the modules must verbally identify potential road hazards such as pedestrians, parked cars and oncoming traffic. The 360-degree view inside the headset is realistic down to the finest details.
“Virtual reality offers a big technological leap in the realm of driver safety training,” said Juan Perez, UPS chief information and engineering officer. “VR creates a hyper-realistic streetscape that will dazzle even the youngest of our drivers whose previous exposure to the technology was through video games.”
The VR training modules replace the touchscreen devices UPS Integrad facilities currently use to teach lessons on road hazards. For now, the VR training is only for those who drive package delivery lorries. But the company is exploring VR and even augmented reality for training tractor trailer drivers and performing other duties throughout the operation.
UPS operates eight UPS Integrad facilities in the USA and two others in Europe. Another US facility is set to open this year, bringing the total to nine. Integrad facilities teach students the fundamentals of driving delivery vehicles and delivering packages using a hands-on approach. Students even practice driving UPS delivery lorries in a replica outdoor city that has real streets and pavements and simulated delivery and pickup sites.
UPS has more than 9000 drivers in its Circle of Honor, an elite group of drivers who have not had an avoidable accident in at least 25 years.
The first UPS Integrad opened in Landover, Maryland, in 2007. The training occurs before students begin more intensive on-road training. Nearly 9000 drivers have graduated from UPS Integrad locations since 2007.
“This training is foundational, and virtual reality brings it to life,” said Jeanne Lawrence, UPS Integrad expansion director. “VR complements real-world training in a way that deeply engages our employees in the UPS Integrad curriculum.”
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide.