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Analysis

Simulators Train Well-Rounder Bus Operators

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 13:51

One of the fundamental areas that allow the smooth sailing of the transportation sector is the training of operators. Today, as Mexico’s transportation sector sees more new buses hit the roads, this has become particularly relevant. This importance is further exacerbated by the fact that behavior at the wheel is directly connected to fuel efficiency and the maintenance of vehicles. Learning how to operate a bus is a studied mix of classroom, simulator and behind- the-wheel instruction, all with a common goal: to create the safest bus operator possible. Mexican transportation companies, in collaboration with educational institutions, have become pioneers in the creation of training courses. The first Master’s degree in Passenger Transportation seen anywhere in the world was inaugurated in 2014 by CANAPAT and UNAM. Similar degrees are found in Europe and the US but their academic content is oriented more toward the logistics, carrier, and courier transportation sectors. In comparison, 14 passenger transportation companies took part in the development of this Master’s degree, making it truly unique in the world in terms of its content and focused objectives. The transportation companies behind the course view simulators as a major component of the process, as they offer operators the experience of driving a bus in tough driving conditions. Simulators come designed with an exact replica of the operator’s dashboard and with a virtual frontal view of the bus seen from the inside. They are able to visually reproduce the sensations of driving such as acceleration, braking, speed, and the environment. The simulators include a steering wheel, a seat, clutch, brake and accelerator pedals; a shifter according to the brand of the bus and a screen tracking the name of the operator and instructor are entered while the exercises are performed. At the end of each activity, the simulator evaluates the performance and guides the operator to try again based on the errors identified by the software. An interesting quality of the simulators is that the scenarios are designed as accurate visual representations of the routes the operators must take. This allows operators the chance to familiarize themselves with sections of the road, while learning the right speed recommendations.

Grupo Flecha Amarilla has taken a step forward in adopting this technology in its training courses. The company already has four driving simulators that reproduce the driving characteristics of MAN Ferrostaal 8 gears, Scania 7 gears, Irizar PB Confort 7 gears, Volvo 7550 8 gears, and Volvo Bus 9700 12 semiautomatic gears. To complement this series of attributes, the company’s simulators can detect when the operator is tired, deviates from the road, or is driving too close to the vehicle in front or a pedestrian. Following the steps of Grupo Flecha Amarilla, CANAPAT hopes that this technology will complement existing training courses offered by companies.