Serious Labs Develops VR Driving Simulator
April 27, 2021
Edmonton-based Serious Labs is developing a virtual reality (VR) commercial
truck driving simulator with support from the Government of Alberta, Emissions
Reduction Alberta (ERA), and the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA).
Alberta will contribute $1 million to development costs of the simulator, while
ERA will contribute an additional $2 million. AMTA is providing data and expert
guidance to ensure that the simulator meets transportation industry needs.
Serious Labs will design, manufacture, and pilot the simulator in Alberta.
Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be
made available across Canada and the United States.
"Our new VR driving simulator will not only help to create an expedited route to
proficiency and safety for drivers, but a better, cleaner environment overall by
lowering greenhouse gas emissions from both training and day-to-day operation,"
said Jim Colvin, CEO of Serious Labs. "This is a meaningful and important
project for us, and we are excited by the journey ahead. Following our launch in
Alberta, we look forward to making our simulators available across Canada, the
United States, and beyond so that everyone can access these benefits."
Mandatory Entry Level Training (MELT), the new training standard deployed
throughout Canada for Class 1 and Class 2 commercial drivers, will become
mandatory for all provinces by 2024. MELT is designed to increase the skill
level and safety of commercial drivers by providing more training and practice.
It requires that each new driver obtain over 100 hours of training time,
including 76 and a half hours of in-cab driving time, before being issued a
Canada's transportation industry is facing a labour shortage of over 20,000
commercial drivers which is projected to worsen in the coming years. "While the
new MELT requirements are excellent news for increasing safety standards, it
means more time as well as greater costs for training centers, more emissions,
and makes entering the industry more difficult for new drivers," said Wade
Carson, Senior Product Director at Serious Labs. "Our goal is to help alleviate
those difficulties and instill best practices for drivers by enabling them to
complete part of their in-cab training in VR instead."
The increased hours required for MELT training will also increase emissions. It
is estimated that between 2023-2030, the Canadian trucking industry will
contribute more than 5,650,000 tons of greenhouse gases while commercial drivers
are being trained.
The new commercial truck simulator is projected to significantly reduce this
number. For each driver trained using a blend of VR and in-vehicle training,
Serious Labs estimates a reduction of 80% of greenhouse gas emissions compared
to the traditional approach. As the simulator launches and becomes more
widespread, Serious Labs projects it will displace 40% of emissions—more than
2,260,000 tonnes—produced in training between 2023-2030. By 2030, the simulator
will be reducing 55% of MELT-driven emissions on an annual basis. By ingraining
best practices, the simulator will also enable drivers to reduce emissions from
day-to-day operations by 2.8%.
"By replacing in-vehicle training time with VR simulators, Serious Labs has the
potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Alberta's and
Canada's transportation sectors," said Steve MacDonald, CEO of ERA. "This
technology solution also supports the growth of Alberta's digital industry, a
sector with enormous potential to diversify our economy and help accelerate
action on climate change."
ERA was created in 2009 to help deliver on the province's environmental and
economic goals. ERA takes action on climate change and supports economic growth
by investing in the piloting, demonstration, and deployment of clean technology
solutions that reduce greenhouse gases, lower costs, attract investment, and
create jobs in Alberta.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the simulator will also provide
significant advantages for the transportation industry, said AMTA President
Chris Nash. AMTA and its members have advanced the commercial transportation
industry through safety programs, progressive policy, and partnerships since
VR simulator will change the face of driver training as we know it, and AMTA is
behind the innovative technologies that will make our roads safer and our
economies stronger," said Nash. "The rapid application of new technology and
disruption in industry is advancing quickly and we are proud to work alongside
Serious Labs, ERA, and the Government of Alberta. The need for all industries to
keep pace with new technology advancements will require collaborative use of
data and digitization to develop integrated solutions for a safer tomorrow."
Serious Labs brings a strong track record to the project, having delivered its
award-winning VR training solutions for multiple industry leaders around the
globe, including United Rentals, Bechtel, DOW, Syncrude, the U.S. Department of
Energy, Singapore International Airlines, British Airways, Rapid Access, Loxam,
Riwal, and Nationwide Platforms.