UPS announced today that it will start training student delivery drivers to spot and identify road hazards using Virtual Reality (VR) headsets that 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. UPS reports that the adoption of VR headsets reflects its commitment to using the latest and best technology to protect its on-road employees and the communities they serve (see video below).
IT experts at UPS created the VR training modules that users see and hear inside VR headsets like 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 designed to be 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 trucks. But the company is exploring VR and even Augmented Reality (AR) for training tractor trailer drivers and performing other duties throughout the operation.
UPS currently operates eight UPS Integrad facilities in the U.S. and two others in Europe. Another U.S. facility is set to open this year, bringing the total to nine in the U.S.
UPS Integrad facilities teach students the fundamentals of driving delivery vehicles and delivering packages using a hands-on approach. Students practice driving UPS delivery trucks in a replica outdoor city that has real streets and sidewalks and simulated delivery and pickup sites.
UPS reports that Integrad and its use of the latest technology supports the company’s safety culture. UPS has more than 9,000 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, Md., in 2007. The training – based on the philosophy “Teach me. Show me. Let me.” – occurs before students begin more intensive on-road training. Nearly 9,000 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.”