Trucking school trains with top of the line semi simulator

| Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Is it live or is it Memorex? The Western Dakota Technical Institute in South Dakota is now testing drivers’ skills with a new high end simulator that boasts all the bells and whistles.

The TranSim VS II Driver Training Simulator, made by General Electric, was purchased with a $65,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, according to reports from The Associated Press.

The unit lets beginning drivers travel through rain, snow and fog without hitting the road. Drivers face a wide screen with a three-dimensional computerized roadway. Rearview mirrors can be changed to show the truck from various angles so drivers can watch while the truck is being driven.

The simulator can be programmed to replicate 40 to 50 different driving conditions and scenarios. It also features 10 removable trailers that drivers can pull and back up to on the simulator.

The transmission can be set from eight to 18 speeds or automatic. Miss a gear, and drivers hear them grind, said Roger Stevens, lead instructor for the program. Other sound and visual effects make the drive very realistic, he added.

At least one trucking firm plans to use the simulator to evaluate a new driver, said Stevens.