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VR simulators by UK's Serious Labs to target high-access operators

A virtual reality training simulator kit with scissor and boom lift scenarios has been launched to train operators in a safe environment

The UK's Serious Labs has created the VR simulators [image: pmvmiddleeast.com].
The UK's Serious Labs has created the VR simulators [image: pmvmiddleeast.com].
Rapid Access will provide the VR simulators for the Middle East's construction contractors [image: pmvmiddleeast.com].
Rapid Access will provide the VR simulators for the Middle East's construction contractors [image: pmvmiddleeast.com].

Working at heights is a high-risk construction activity that is globally known to be a major cause of site injuries and fatalities.

Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) are considered the safest method of working at heights, but their safety, too, depends on well-trained and competent operators.  

However, site training with highly valuable equipment can be expensive, and risk both equipment and operators.

To eliminate these risks, UAE-based powered access equipment rental company, Rapid Access, has devised a virtual reality (VR) system to help the rental industry train its operators in the use of heavy equipment, such as cranes and aerial boom lifts.

The VR training simulator, the likes of which were previously only available in the aviation industry, is developed by UK-based experiential learning systems company, Serious Labs.

READ: Serious Labs raises $5m to develop VR equipment training

The simulator provides immersive VR simulations comprising scissor lift and boom lift modules, allowing operators to explore realistic job site environments and safely test the limits of equipment in dangerous situations – all from a safe space.

The scissor lift modules, co-developed by UK-based Nationwide Platforms, consist of 18 training scenarios on slab and diesel rough terrain scissor lifts, and 16 articulating boom lift scenarios.

The simulations progressively become more challenging, isolating tasks around driving, lifting, platform positioning, and operating. Each module takes the novice approximately 75 minutes to complete, and a seasoned professional about 45 minutes. Metrics provide feedback about the operator’s performance, showing weakness and strengths.

The simulator kit includes an Oculus VR headset, safety cage, scissor lift controls and Oculus touch controls which automatically calibrate the headset for each operator. The hardware is offered as an upfront purchase, and the software is sold through a subscription model.

The advantage of the software subscription model is that it provides room for expansion of scenarios, which means the product will be more advanced at the end of a subscription period.

Commenting on the system, Nigel Taylor, European director, Serious Labs, says: “The scissor lift modules, which is new to the unit, has been developed over the last nine months with the help of Nationwide Platforms to create as many possible scenarios that meet the requirements of clients. It enables operators to become fully emerged in the virtual world of a jobsite, mimicking everything they’d expect to see and feel in a real world construction environment. 

“The advantage of the software subscription model is that it provides room for expansion of scenarios, which means the product will be more advanced at the end of a subscription period. With technology advances, we see these machines evolve into networked systems with multiple scenarios which have interaction between machines and avatars of people.”

The VR simulator was made available globally in April, based on subscription, lease, and rental agreements. Rapid Access, the distributor for the Middle East, is providing system servicing and support in the region, in tandem with Serious Labs. 

Joe Keely, regional marketing manager, Middle East and International, Rapid Access, says the system will benefit contractors in the Middle East.

“We want operators to train in a safe environment and improve their skills,” he tells PMV Middle East, a sister title of Construction Week

“The VR simulator will help operators familiarise themselves with real-world scenarios that they’re going to encounter on their job sites, which will help build more muscle memory to solve tasks better. We foresee huge demand for this product in the Middle East from rental companies and contractors.”  

For more information about the system, visit pmvmiddleeast.com.

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