Motion is a must at driver’s training schools
According to road-safety company Develter, the best way to avoid car accidents is to experience them. That’s why the company puts its trainees behind the wheels of the most innovative apparatus available: motion simulators.
For the last 12 years, Develter has specialized in training solutions for drivers of cars, buses and trucks. Today, Develter is a partner of driving-course developer Beltoise Evolution, and provides simulators for Beltoise and other companies.
To build the best simulators for its customers, Develter joined forces with fellow tech companies D-BOX and Mobsim. The resulting product combines Develter’s curriculum and software with D-BOX’s Motion Systems and actuators, and Mobsim’s hardware and design.
According to company founder Stéphane Develter, the benefits of motion simulation abound. For starters, it focuses the driver’s attention by providing full immersion into a scene. If a trainee’s car is bumped from behind, the driver is able to feel the effect and react to it.
Motion simulators can give operators cues that mimic weather conditions and vehicular malfunctions such as flat tires. In addition, motion helps build reflexes and create memory by stimulating emotions in the person behind the wheel.
“People forget they are in a virtual world and worry about getting hurt,” Stéphane says.
A higher level of immersion
Things at Develter look a lot different today than when the company started in 1995. At the time, Stéphane felt that commercially available games and software were neither flexible nor realistic enough for his clients.
“The strong and intense movements generated by classic systems are not optimal for training, and are better suited for games and rides than for a proper training environment,” he says.
So, the company created its own software solutions based on its curriculum, replacing books and slides with 3-D software and laptops. It also began using simulators so that trainees didn’t need to be in cars. Instead of requiring the resources of having multiple vehicles, simple actions such as starting engines, shifting gears and breaking could be virtualized.
But even with this development, Stéphane felt the product could be better. “Despite the immersion allowed by 3D, trainees remained passive bystanders. The last level of immersion was missing, to give them a tool so they could direct their own training,” he explains.
That missing tool? Motion simulation.
Develter discovered that D-BOX’s Motion Systems were interactive, compact and easily deployed. In the last four years, Develter has used D-BOX to develop technology that addresses the needs of a large-scale curriculum. With sophisticated settings informed by live training, Develter now offers virtual training that is very close to real life.
And the benefits don’t stop when the trainee leaves the driver’s station. Simulators enable operators to review their progress during simulation exercises or later on in a classroom. The metrics the simulators provide allow operators to learn more efficiently from their mistakes and improve their driving.
A new standard
Today, virtual training has set a new standard for trainees and driving centres alike. Not only does it provide drivers with the experience of navigating real-life situations, but it also reduces the fuel consumption and insurance costs associated with vehicles.
“More and more, motion is seen as a must for trainees, and is requested by training centres and driving school,” Stéphane says. “Simulation training and training on the tracks complement each other; both allow more efficient training in a flexible way.”
In spite of small budgets, driving schools are implementing motion systems into their simulators, Stéphane explains. Currently, Develter and Beltoise jointly support fleet training for experienced drivers to increase efficiency and safety of their operations.
In April 2015, a large driving school in France employed Develter’s curriculum and the D-BOX Motion System to create simulators to teach road-safety best practices. In addition to driving techniques, the simulators teach trainees how to manage unforeseen situations on the road and understand the effect of alcohol on driving.
“The simulator won’t replace live training, but it allows us to teach clients what to do in real-life situations such as accidents or malfunction,” Stéphane says.
Into the future, immersion will become even more important for Develter and its customers. The company plans to use the D-BOX Motion System to stimulate the sense of touch and create better visual immersion by improving HUDs, for example. All with the goal of promoting road safety using the most innovative technology in the world.