A snowplow simulator drew rave reviews from INDOT employees who tested it in February.
“Wow, this is cool — while sitting in the chair, I can actually feel the road,” said one INDOT employee.
“It’s realistic — not just some smooth road underneath you,” said another. “The visuals and graphics are spot-on.”
INDOT’s testing is part of a research project that could result in simulators being located at INDOT district locations.
Modules included wing-plow, rear-plow, tow-plow, and other configurations under different road conditions (dry, wet, snow, and black ice), weather (various levels of snow in daytime or nighttime), and traffic.
The simulators can match INDOT’s truck controls and feedback so that it responds like an actual truck. When simulator users lower a blade, make a turn, or encounter new conditions, they feel it in the steering wheel. The seat platform is mounted to move and adjust so the driver feels like they are in a truck cab.
INDOT employees’ feedback was documented for the research project in conjunction with the Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program, Purdue University, and Joint Transportation Research Program. If successful, the simulators could provide training for new drivers, saving time, fuel, and equipment maintenance.