UPS (NYSE:UPS) this week announced the expansion of its driver training to include Virtual Reality (VR) headsets at its UPS Integrad locations in the United Kingdom and Germany. The VR headsets vividly simulate the experience of driving on German and UK city streets while teaching a more memorable classroom lesson.
The company is launching VR training at its two European training facilities in Cologne, Germany, and Burton-Upon-Trent, UK. The adoption of VR for driver safety training reflects UPS’s commitment to using the latest technology to protect its drivers and the people in the communities they serve.
“Virtual Reality offers a technological leap in the realm of driver safety training,” said Juan Perez, UPS chief information and engineering officer. “VR creates a realistic streetscape that will impress even the youngest of our drivers, whose previous exposure to the technology may have been through video games.”
IT experts at UPS created the VR training modules that users see and hear inside VR headsets. 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 fine details. “The headsets for UPS drivers in Cologne and Burton-Upon-Trent use images of local streets to identify typical local road hazards,” said Thomas Scholz, manager of UPS Integrad in Cologne.
The VR training modules replace the touchscreen devices UPS Integrad facilities currently use. For now, the VR training is used for those who drive package delivery trucks, but the company is exploring VR and even Augmented Reality (AR) for training tractor trailer drivers and other operations employees.
UPS currently operates 10 UPS Integrad facilities in the United States and two in Europe.
UPS Integrad facilities teach students the fundamentals of driving delivery vehicles and delivering packages using a hands-on approach. Students even practice driving UPS delivery trucks in a replica outdoor town called ‘Neustadt’ or ‘Newtown’, which has real streets, a roundabout, pavements and simulated delivery and pickup sites.
UPS Integrad and its use of the latest technology supports the company’s safety culture. UPS has more than 10,364 drivers in its Circle of Honor, an elite group of drivers who have not had an avoidable accident in at least 25 years.
The Cologne Integrad facility opened in 2016, and the Burton-Upon-Trent facility opened in 2017. 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.