Getting Drivers Of "Green" Buses Up To Speed

Mobile Sales Support - Product Simulation

Category: Sales Support

Driver Education for the 21st Century

In today’s world, consumers demand environmentally-friendly products and services. One firm at the forefront of making buses “greener” and cleaner is worldwide leader Voith, with its DIWAhybrid. Voith’s new bus delivers fuel savings, and cuts CO2 emissions up to 20 percent, using energy stored during braking to power it. This new bus required drivers to master new skills quickly. And learn how to make the most of system efficiencies. They also needed to be reassured that speed, performance and their overall driving experience would be uncompromised.

Learning in a Safe Environment

There’s no better way to make drivers comfortable than to put them behind the wheel. That’s why Voith partnered with the JPL Learning Solutions team to create an Android tablet-based application. This innovative simulation brings the driving experience to life, with realistic situations, helpful information and lively graphic interaction. The 2-D simulation lets drivers hone their skills in a realistic but risk-free environment, using an onscreen gas pedal and the tablet’s built-in accelerometer. The goal is to practice consistent braking to achieve greater fuel efficiency.

Customized, Updatable and Flexible Simulations

The learning experience is launched from the tablet as an Adobe AIR application. That gives it the custom look and feel of a native application rather than a generic web page. Yet, in reality, the user is actually navigating a website from within the custom application. That gives Voith the flexibility to update content over the Internet without re-deployment, saving time and money. It can also be run offline if no Internet connection is available.

The application has three rows and four simulation levels. Very briefly, Row A displays the entire route, helping drivers plan acceleration and breaking. Row B zooms in, giving a sense of speed and motion. Row C houses the virtual controls, and supplies visual feedback on speed and charge. The four simulation levels each have four straight-line travel routes and four stop points, using three terrain types: flat, uphill, and downhill.

When a driver completes the simulation, a screen displays feedback based on the score. The driver can replay the situation until mastering it, or return to the Main Menu for a new scenario. The capacity to change key program parameters via simple updates of an editable XML file gives the program added flexibility. Braking force, gravity effects, starting charge values and much more are all adaptable. The goal is to provide the most realistic simulation possible, so drivers can use the new system with confidence and expertise under any conditions.

Drivers and Trainers Alike Benefit

Initially, Voith trained drivers in an actual bus one-on-one. But drivers were hesitant. After using the simulation first, drivers were much more comfortable completing training behind the wheel of the real bus. So they were able to apply their simulated learning to real world driving in less time, and with greater confidence. Trainers were also able to save time by instructing multiple drivers at once. And ultimately, passengers will benefit by having better trained, safer and more efficient drivers to get them where they need to go.