Easy As HGV, a training company with more than 90 training centres in Britain, has partnered with Virti, a major immersive training firm, to facilitate training processes with VR and 360-degree content.
Virti’s fully-interactive VR models use questions to train drivers and boost information retention rates on key skills and also monitor vital data and analytics as learners perform to monitor progress.
According to trials documented by Virti, learners increased their decision-making skills, boosted retention rates, and raised performance metrics up to 230 percent.
— Virti (@virtilabs) January 7, 2022
Easy As HGV aims to improve test performance for learners by 25 percent in a bid to upskill HGV drivers by 2022. The company also notes an impressive 400 percent surge in enquiries over the last six months, up from an average of 500 drivers per month, indicating the sharp rise in demand for courses.
The Bristol-based firm filmed simulations at a Surrey-based HGV training centre to allow potential recruits to join virtual instructors for exercises such as pre-journey safety checks, cab coupling and decoupling, and manoeuvring.
Users can access the simulations on virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets, as well as mobile and desktop environments, for use with Easy As HGV’s four-day intensive course for free.
Virti designed the trainer for learners seeking Category C+E testing to drive lorries over 3,500 kg and trailers over 750 kg, reducing the training time from an average of eight to ten weeks to four days.
Comments on Virti-Easy As HGV Partnership
Tom McGhie, Managing Director at Easy As HGV, said there was “no secret” the HGV sector was “in crisis,” adding,
“We desperately need to train up more drivers – and fast. We’re being inundated with enquiries and people are incredibly keen to learn. It’s therefore crucial that we can innovate to allow more people to come through the system, but that we use tools that uphold our commitment to safety and quality”
He continued, stating the new VR trainer would be “invaluable” for allowing learners to revise and practise skills learned in courses prior to taking their HGV tests.
The new modules were “far more effective” than studying with textbooks or standard videos, he added.
McGhie explained further,
“The tech has been designed to test and challenge our candidates, so that they’re better prepared for the test, and research indicates that they’ll retain this crucial safety information much more effectively as a result”
Feedback from candidates had been “overwhelmingly positive” and his company looked forward to rolling out training materials over the next few weeks, he concluded.
Dr Alex Young, Founder and Chief Executive of Virti, said that people have associated VR with gaming for a long time, but new immersive technologies excelled when applied to training scenarios.
“At Virti, we specialise in helping companies build data-driven, immersive deep learning tools to transform how people learn and help them remember skills and information for longer. We’re really excited to be working with Easy As HGV to help them respond quickly and effectively to the HGV driver shortage”
Virti had developed simulations to speed up the training process and helped candidates reach their goals with VR, he said, adding there was “no better way to embed learning and build confidence” than with immersive training solutions.
He added Virti was “delighted” to provide the simulations to Easy As HGV to increase learner’s success rates, hoped the tools would facilitate getting “more drivers on the road safely and efficiently.”
VR Empowers Prospective Lorry Drivers
The news comes after the UK lost nearly 100,000 qualified drivers due to thousands of staff from the European Union being unable to return to the country following Brexit, figures from the Road Haulers Association (RHA) revealed in June last year.
COVID-19 has also blocked new drivers from accessing testing and training centres amid growing pressure from a massive surge of HGV trainees surpassing available vehicles, the RHA found.
The UK government has responded by pledging roughly £34.5 million in funds for skills bootcamps featuring similar solutions, which aimed at tackling the ongoing crisis of lorry and heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers across the nation, it recently announced.
The government said the new funds would fund training for more than 11,000 more learners to gain qualification as an HGV driver in England, following the massive shortage of staff triggered by COVID-19 and post-Brexit concerns.
Top global firms such as Bank of America, Accenture, and Nissan, among others, have responded with similar VR training solutions in a bid to onboard and continue education for employees, namely amid the pandemic and global qualified staff shortage.
In a round table with XR Today, Dr Young explained how XR was an “extremely cost-effective” solution that provided greater retention rates than traditional instructional methods.
Rival immersive training firm XALTER also collaborated on a trainer for Marathon Petroleum for a truck loading simulation for lorries transporting petrol to stations across the United States and abroad.
The company found both older and younger generations of learners readily adopted the VR training module, increasing their retention rates with nearly 10 exercise repetitions each hour.