The Published Reporter, August 31, 2020: Economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 era, says John Kearney, CEO of Advanced Training Systems, could be severely hampered by a growing shortage of truck drivers. It is estimated that there are 50,000 fewer long- and short-haul truckers than are needed now, a total that, if nothing changes, could reach 160,000 by 2028. Kearney, whose company is a leading designer and manufacturer of virtual simulators for driver training, among other applications, notes that over 70% of all freight in the U.S. moves by truck, and that average driver age in the over-the-road trucking industry is close to fifty.
ATS, an acknowledged leader in virtual reality technology, deploys a number of patented processes designed to further these goals. Among them is the On QTM simulation motion device, which provides haptic feedback in the form of longitudinal motion cues for accelerating and braking, and lateral cues for turning, thus giving the student the sense of a real driving experience.
This capability, notes Kearney, is particularly useful as truck driver training begins to look to an electrical future: While the first production-model electric trucks will not be delivered until late 2021, environmental concerns will make them an increasingly important part of the overall supply chain.
Because of the weight of the battery, electrical trucks, particularly in curves and turns, do not respond in exactly the same way as diesels. Training for these vehicles will need to be incorporated into the overall driver training process, which is increasingly being managed not by third parties but by the shippers themselves. ATS, notes Kearney, is in discussion with at least one very major shipper about in-house use of its simulator technology.
Meanwhile, heavy-duty electrical truck testing is now being conducted at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where about 14,000 trucks per day pass through the complex. ATS, which has a development center at Vista, CA, has been involved in some of the training being done, both onsite at the port and at nearby San Bernardino Valley College.
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