Drivers dispatched to one of Schneider National's driver training academies may want to pack some Dramamine. Along with the classroom sessions, they'll be spending time in a sophisticated motion-based simulator that replicates every bounce, swerve and slide in a virtual roadtrip plagued with crises ranging from brake failures and blown tires to skids.
Over the next nine months, the Wisconsin-based trucking giant will purchase the motion-based simulators, which are made by simulation specialist MPRI, for all of its driver training academies across the United States and Canada. Intended to supplement instructor-led training and experience behind the wheel of a real truck, the simulators give drivers a chance to experience situations that cannot be safely replicated on the actual highway, like driving in inclement weather, handling equipment failures or navigating heavy traffic. The simulators will be used to train all of the company's 15,500 drivers, whether they're new hires or veterans participating in ongoing training programs.
As for the quality of the simulation, Don Osterberg, Schneider's vice president of safety and training, likens it to "an IMAX experience for trucking." In the simulator, he says, "the driver's seat and on-screen images will move, spin and rotate to create the sensation of different driving conditions. It's amazing how realistic simulation makes these scenarios feel."
Osterberg notes that the simulator can even be customized by location, so that a driver in training can experience what it will look and feel like to deliver loads to different types of facilities in various geographic locations.