Can virtual reality tools be used to train engineers that inspect work zones? In this paper, we share the findings of a research project that developed an interactive and immersive training platform using virtual reality to train state department of transportation (DOT) staff that inspect work zones for compliance. Virtual reality offers an immersive platform that closely replicates the actual experience of an inspector driving through a work zone, but in a safer, cheaper, and quicker way than field visits. The current training practice involves reviewing temporary traffic control procedures, and reports and pictures from previous inspections. The developed platform consists of a learning module and an immersive module. The learning module is founded on the historical knowledge gained by DOT staff from inspections dating back at least 5 years. This knowledge incorporated representative inspection reports from previous years from all DOT districts including photographs of deficiencies. The synthesized knowledge was converted into a concise easy-to-consume format for training. The immersive module places the trainee in a vehicle moving through a work zone, thus providing a realistic experience to the engineer before inspecting a real work zone. The research team developed and tested two immersive scenarios of a freeway work zone. The training platform was tested by 34 individuals that worked for the Missouri Department of Transportation. An overwhelming majority (97%) agreed that virtual reality offered a realistic and effective way to train inspectors.
Publisher: Transportation Research Board
Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Source URL: Link to URL
Publication Types: Books, Reports, Papers, and Research Articles
Topics: Driving Simulators; Inspection; Training; Virtual Reality; Work Zones