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RTA introduces VR-based Training for Tram Drivers in partnership with Serco

Published: 20 Jul 2020

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Serco, the Dubai Metro & Tram Operator, have recently launched a joint initiative of conducting Virtual Reality (VR) based training dedicated for Tram Drivers. RTA’s Rail Agency launched the initial phase of VR technologies as a smart tool to enrich the training of tram drivers, improve their performance and reduce related accidents.

“RTA is making relentless efforts to enhance the synergy between technological advancements and training techniques. We pride ourselves on working with our partners in the use of innovative technologies, such as VR, to enhance the impact of our learning & development programmes. Such a drive underlines our commitment to adopting top international practices to improve the quality of training deliverables. The process warrants sustained efforts and improvements towards realising RTA’s vision of Safe and Smooth Transport for All,” said Hassan Mohammad Al Mutawa, Director of Operations, RTA’s Rail Agency.

“Introducing cutting-edge technologies avails trainee drivers of interactive experiences and opportunities. They will be subjected to various case scenarios to hone their skills of controlling trains and avoiding incidents. Such exposure will also boost the safety of passengers and develop drivers’ reactions towards anticipating and avoiding the mistakes of others.

“Empirical VR learning has enormous potentials for developing quick solutions to keep pace with Dubai future advancements. VR technologies are easy to understand as they are built on creating a perception of reality simulating the real world. They contribute to monitoring and assessing drivers’ performance as well as identifying areas of improvement. It will be possible to gauge the impact of training and the drivers understanding of the training content, which will also enhance the overall performance,” he explained.

“Through detailed data collection and analysis since the commencement of Dubai Tram Operations in 2014, RTA opted to provide suitable training tools to promote Tram Drivers Risk-Based Commentary and increase their awareness of network hazards. We have given due consideration to the intersections of tram network with surrounding streets, which have the highest incident reporting rates, and accordingly, we have compiled detailed data of intersection hazards,” explained Al Mutawa.

“Several mounting points were trialled to ensure that the camera did not impact on the Tram Drivers line of sight as well as not being too much of a distraction to the driver as well. The VR Headset has been trialled for feedback by numerous Tram Drivers and other front-line staff, all of whom have been supportive of the use of the new technology and can see its value in improving training.

“The next phase will be to work with the Tram Training Team and develop VR content, which compliments the in-classroom training, and encourage the use Virtual Reality-Based Training (VRBT) in all future training courses for Tram Drivers as well as expand the use of the technology to other areas of the Transport sector. We believe that the interactive nature of VR training transforms skills development into an impactful, risk-free training experience” he added.

“RTA would work with Serco to expand the plans of VR-based training in the future. The Scope of the technology will expand beyond tram and can be used in Rail Maintenance, Risk Assessments, Incident Investigations, Metro Sweep Train, Safe Work Instructions and other training etc,” concluded Al Mutawa.

Wallace Weatherill, Managing Director Serco Middle East for the Dubai Metro and Tram contract stated “As a service company that is known for delivering world-class service, we thrive in delivering innovation and technological developments in what we do. In today’s age, we explore methods to make training more effective and interesting, especially with a critical role such as that of a Tram Driver, better-prepared Trainee Drivers will also be less likely to be involved in an incident during training. Working closely with the RTA to introduce the VR based training, supplements traditional training method and helps trainees’ transition between classroom-based theoretical training and in-cab practical training.

Wallace continues: “We are very fortunate to partner with the Roads and Transport Authority on this technological advancement. Their trust in our capabilities to deliver an instrumental project into fruition is a true testament of our long-lasting corporation. As part of the SPAD Management Working Group, RTA have been supportive of the use of VR technology to improve the training experience of Tram Drivers and provide innovative, immersive and simulative training methods to provide Tram Drivers with the best training possible. RTA has been consulted and updated throughout the process and has also been able to view the VR technology and have been very positive with their feedback on the Tram Trial.”