Tampa Bay Business Journal, September 3, 2020: Before commercial truckers get behind the wheel of a big rig on a public road, they’ve undergone hundreds of hours of training to earn their Commercial Driver’s License. St. Petersburg-headquartered company Advanced Training Systems aims to make that training process safer and smoother through simulators and virtual reality.
ATS was founded in 2008 by people from three distinct areas of experience. Jim Voorhees developed driver training software using computer-based training. Reginal Welles and Enrique Mar Jr. brought engineering related to building the physical systems and the training software development experience. John Kearney, the ATS’s current CEO, brought his experience with training thousands of drivers at Roadmaster Drivers Schools.

“The ownership of ATS was composed of the three key disciplines that are required to accomplish the best training results,” said Kearney.

From the simulation software to the physical system and driver training, he said the company covered all necessary bases to prepare students for driving on the road. “Students should be able to go from the simulation to the real truck, get in it and drive.”

Recreating what a student would experience on the road is critical, said Kearney. “Learning that is not accurate to the experience in the real vehicle will produce improperly trained drivers who have accidents,” he said. “If the simulator doesn’t tell you exactly what would happen in a real truck, then you’re training wrong.”

Accurate simulations have real-world consequences. For many students, the first time they experience hazardous conditions such as rain or snow is in a simulator, so Kearney stressed the importance of depicting those conditions realistically.

“If you’re driving a truck over ice, there’s no way to train an individual how to manage that scenario except in a simulator,” he said. “If you wreck the vehicle and kill some people [on the road], that’s not good. You have to have the exact same feeling you’d have in a real truck in the simulator.”

In light of the coronavirus lockdown, ATS has offered its pre-trip application to driving students for free. The application walks trainees through things like pre-trip checklists, basic control skills exam and a road skills test.

For More Information

Advanced Training Systems has revolutionized the design and manufacture of high-tech simulators to improve driver training and create both better drivers and a safer world. In addition to hundreds of driving schools, we provide equipment and support for major shippers who do their own training, as well as customized solutions for those with particular training needs. For more information or to schedule a demo, please contact us here.