Purpose-Built Simulator Wins CA POST Contract FAAC’s LE-1500 a Game-Changer in Simulator Market

Purpose-Built Simulator Wins CA POST Contract
FAAC’s LE-1500 a Game-Changer in Simulator Market

After a recent national study proved the value of using simulators in driver training to save lives and reduce accidents, the state of California has awarded a contract to populate the state with law enforcement driving simulators that will make it a world leader in simulator training.

Results from the Driver Training Study, Volume 1 2008, which was commissioned by the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (CA POST) to empirically determine the value of simulator training, have paved the way for a $10.3-million contract with FAAC Incorporated to supply the state with 108 simulators at 24 training centers across the state. The state also is receiving seven mobile training classroom systems. The contract is believed to be the largest single purchase of public safety simulators ever recorded.

Analyses in the study concluded that students who completed a simulator-only course were significantly less likely to be involved in a collision than those who received the Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC)-only course. However, the greatest reduction of collisions occurred when both simulators and EVOC training were used together.

The top recommendation from the study was to “immediately revitalize California’s LEDS (Law Enforcement Driver Simulator) training program.”

FAAC Incorporated, the company selected by CA POST last fall, earned the contract after a rigorous competitive procurement process that included several scoring categories. Competitors were objectively scored by an impartial panel during a three-day demonstration event.

Officials chose FAAC’s LE-1500 driver simulator as the Best Value for long-term effective training and superior customer support from the field of competitors, and FAAC was the overall clear points leader. Other finalists included MPRI and Doron Precision Systems, Inc.

Categories included:
– Geometrically correct 225-degree field of view
– Customer references
– Virtual world and graphics
– Vehicle dynamics and feedback
– Scenario building software

Field of View
The proper field of view was critically important to the selection committee, said David Bouwkamp, FAAC Executive Director of Business Development. Committee members analyzed both the geometric accuracy of the visual image displayed and the span of image in a tactical setting.

“Our simulators are purpose-built, meaning that we build what the market has identified as important for training its particular professionals,” Bouwkamp said. “In this case, CA POST officials identified as a vital requirement the ability of students to conduct proper over-the-shoulder checks beyond 90 degrees, to develop critical scanning techniques for clearing intersections and maintaining situational awareness while responding in emergency conditions. We were the only vendor able to provide CA POST with a true 225-degree field-of-view solution.

“We believe that some of the most severe and costly collisions, both in terms of lives and property, experienced by law enforcement are at intersections. Instructors must have the proper tool in their hands to reinforce the intersection clearing process, and that means scanning beyond 90 degrees in each direction to monitor other traffic lanes. Competitors have skewed their virtual worlds to claim a larger field of view, but that only creates a negative training environment that is counterintuitive to the training principles of our customers.”

Other considerations also were important to the scoring panel.

Customer References
CA POST panelists created a scoring category for customer references due to the size and length of the contract, and the investment in simulation technology they were making. Panelists interviewed current customers from each of the three finalists’ to determine long-term compatibility with the CA POST vision.

FAAC was far ahead of the pack in the customer reference category, scoring a full 30% higher than the next closest competitor. Scoring criteria included product reliability, customer satisfaction, build quality, product features, and service support.

“CA POST officials are not just making a technology purchase, they are entering into a long-term partnership with FAAC to build the next generation of training capability,” said Chuck Deakins, current FAAC Public Safety Specialist and former CA POST member. “They want to know who they are doing business with, and whether they can count on FAAC not just before delivery, but after it as well. It looks from the scores that FAAC’s customers had very good things to say about the service and support departments.”

Virtual Driving World
Panelists were impressed with the purpose-built California-variant driving world displayed at the live judging demonstrations last fall.

FAAC engineers created California-type terrain, including mountainous freeways, steep grades, switchbacks, deserts, canyons, highways, and suburban areas, as well as downtown street grids to accommodate training in a simulated world that is reflective of the state’s diverse environment.

The LE-1500 has the capability to use the PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver so students can practice that tactic and save on wear and tear to real vehicles. Instructors can teach both mechanical aspects of the technique and decision-making on when and where to use PIT.

Students can drive a single exercise that takes them from a high-rise metropolitan area to small roadside villages through a variety of paved and unpaved street types. Along the way, students encounter skateboarders, bicyclists, walking pedestrians, and animals, and maneuver around blind intersections, hidden driveway turnouts, speed bumps and potholes, roundabouts, school and construction zones, railroad tracks, and motorized traffic. Students can even patrol through a campground built into the virtual world.

Instructors have the capability to alter the environmental factors in a student’s driving exercise. They can add fog, snow, rain, and dust, decrease vehicle traction, increase wind speed, control traffic signal patterns, and whether evidence is thrown from the suspect vehicle. Per the CA POST specification, training scenarios include bullet impacts on the virtual patrol vehicle’s windshield indicating an active shooter or ambush.

In addition, FAAC engineers exceeded the requirements by adding all the current CA POST driving scenarios to the new driving world. This additional scenario development goes above the requirements and not only maintains the instructional continuity created during the past several years of simulator training but will provide students with fresh training exercises.

Driver Cab Features
FAAC engineers have built features and functions into the LE-1500 simulator specifically required by CA POST. Some of these items include:

– The most authentic driving compartment, including instrumentation, seating, steering, pedal feel and driving dynamics such as acceleration, braking, and turning.
– Dynamic feedback to impacted objects and distinguishing the severity of collisions that have been detected. Minor collisions register with a cracked windshield, audio cues, and decreased handling; however, it allows the student to continue driving, creating a judgment situation as to whether he or she continues the pursuit or remains at the collision scene.
– A working mobile digital computer (MDC).
– Savable video from training scenarios and a cab-mounted video camera to use with students during exercise review.
– Picture-in-picture technology to be used during driving replays and instructor-student reviews that combines views of the students face and hand placement, and the vehicle in the virtual world.
– Wireless instructor controls to manage up to four simulators from a remote location.

“The driver simulator is a complete training system for instructors,” said Deakins. “Every feature and function on this simulator was designed to help instructors transfer their knowledge of safe, defensive driving to their students. Depending on the objective and the need, an instructor can custom-build a training session that highlights that specific issue.

“If you come to me with a driving problem I will create a solution for it on this simulator.”

For more information on the results of the CA POST Driver Training Study, click here:  www.post.ca.gov/Publications/Driver_Training_Study .

For more information on FAAC simulator products, please visit our website at Simulation Training and Research Leaders | FAAC
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