Ben Bennett, Managing Director of virtual and augmented reality developer Luminous, explains how these burgeoning technologies can help to improve health and safety in the transport sector.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have come on leaps and bounds in the last decade, and these technologies are rapidly finding applications in all aspects of our lives. From aviation to video games, defence to manufacturing, and nuclear to engineering, AR and VR are changing the way that every industry operates.
One industry we are particularly excited about applying this technology to is transportation. Health and safety are paramount in the transportation sector, and we believe that the increased use of AR and VR can drastically reduce the amount of accidents and injuries that occur. From the way we learn in a classroom environment, to integrating technology directly into our machines, I’ll talk you through how AR and VR will improve health and safety in the transport sector.
Virtual reality is the next logical step in classroom training, combining all the strengths of real-life learning with the added benefits of a controlled simulated environment. Logistics company UPS is already using virtual reality to train its drivers to understand and identify road hazards in a classroom environment.
Using VR headsets, vivid real-world simulations can be created, immersing individuals in more memorable learning experiences. With the headset on, users have a 360-degree view of a realistic simulated environment which includes sounds and hazards, helping to prepare users for real world situations.
At present, the UPS simulation is an extension of other computer-based touch screen hazard training which has been used for a number of years, but these simulations will only become more advanced as technology improves.
Preparing for the worst
Simulation training has been used in the aviation industry for decades, allowing pilots to clock up flight hours, test their abilities, and practice emergency situations in a safe and controlled environment. This rigorous method of training has undoubtedly made our pilots more skilled and our skies safer.
As technology improves and costs decrease, it will become more viable for fully immersive VR to be applied to training within the fleet and wider logistics sectors. The benefits for improving health and safety outcomes will be immense, with simulations that are able to mimic real-world physics, forces, collisions, and even weather, allowing drivers to prepare for the most dangerous of situations in a completely safe environment.
The beauty of VR is that, once fully immersed, the brain treats it as though it were a real-life experience, believing the environments it is seeing and experiencing are real. At Luminous Group we have already developed warehouse and port environments for use in VR, and it’s only a matter of time before this is expanded into other applications.
Outside of the virtual world, augmented reality is already starting to change the way we use our vehicles. Augmented windscreens seem like the most obvious choice, and some vehicle manufacturers are already integrating information such as GPS, fuel, and speed into a heads-up display on your windscreen.
While the idea may seem strange at first, having everything displayed on the windscreen means you never have to take your eyes off the road to look down at your dashboard. Other integrations such as video calling, obstacle detection, and traffic alerts are all possible options for this technology, and augmented driving might be closer than you think.
Future advances in this space will help you keep track of where your vehicle is on the road, how fast other vehicles are travelling, and warnings for collisions and blind-spots. How exactly augmented reality will shape the way we use vehicles is hard to predict, but advances in the sector are promising, and we are excited to see where this technology goes.
Where AR and VR will take us in the future is unknown, but in decades to come we will see these technologies encroach on more aspects of our day-to-day life. With the massive benefits that virtual reality training and integrated augmented reality can bring, that world might not be as far off as we think.