Sim­u­la­tor of­fers real deal

DECA im­ports a top-end driver train­ing tool, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

PI­LOTS do much of their flight train­ing in sim­u­la­tors and, if DECA gets its way, so will truck driv­ers. One of the coun­try’s lead­ing driver-train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions, DECA has im­ported three of the latest heavy-truck sim­u­la­tors from the US and plans to add an­other two to its vir­tual fleet later this year.

The pub­lic will get the chance to try the sim­u­la­tor at the Melbourne In­ter­na­tional Truck and Trailer Ex­hi­bi­tion next month.

Us­ing sim­u­la­tors sub­stan­tially short­ens the time needed to get a rookie driver on to the road. It can also be used to sharpen the skills of an ex­pe­ri­enced driver to im­prove fuel econ­omy and safety.

The sim­u­la­tor is an ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a truck. The seat, steer­ing wheel and turn sig­nal stalk are all real, as are the truck and trailer brake con­trols on the dash to the left of the driver — which is just where they’d be in an ac­tual truck. But it goes be­yond the generic. DECA man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ian Bushby can dial up just about any type of truck seen on the road, from rigids to prime movers and B-dou­bles. There’s even a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a B-triple sim­i­lar to the one DECA has added to its train­ing fleet.

It’s also pos­si­ble to se­lect the brand of truck and the model, en­gine, trans­mis­sion and fi­nal drive ra­tio. Bushby has had the ac­tual dash lay­outs en­tered into the soft­ware. Se­lect a Volvo, or any one of sev­eral makes of trucks, and the ap­pro­pri­ate dash lay­out will come up on the sim­u­la­tor’s dash.

The sim­u­la­tor also has the cor­rect power and torque curves for the en­gine se­lected.

Mak­ing a mis­take, such as miss- ing a shift, re­sults in re­al­is­tic and em­bar­rass­ing crunch­ing noises.

Bushby is also able to call up myr­iad driv­ing sit­u­a­tions on the three screens the driver faces.

He can make it rain, hail, sleet or snow, cover the road in black ice and even send a child or kan­ga­roo dash­ing across.

Put to the test: a sim­u­la­tor helps rookie driv­ers and can sharpen the skills of ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers.

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