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Swappable Panels for Public Transport Simulation Training

As we’ve discussed in the past, one key to the effectiveness of public transport simulation training is “presence“—i.e., the trainee’s convincing subjective experience of being in an actual vehicle. As Rob Raheb (an internationally published author and expert in simulation and driver training) has noted:

“The more realistic the simulation is, the more ‘buy in’ from the student. When a simulator is built more to a vehicle specification rather than a generic dash panel it gives the student additional time with muscle memory development.”

Every element of a FAAC simulator bends toward creating that immersive experience. This ranges from how vehicle dynamics and physics are handled in the simulation software right down to the hardware of the simulator cab, which is customized to a specific fleet of vehicles—including dash layout, OEM gauges, and other authentic components integrated with the hardware so that their behavior matches the real-life experience. 

But what if your transit agency uses several different types of vehicles? Are you stuck getting a generic panel that approximates the common features of all of them? Or filling a warehouse with different sims to match your different buses?

Not with FAAC. Drawing on our experience designing and fabricating flexible and modular training simulators for the military, we’ve brought swappable panels to public transport simulation training.

sub: One Public Transport Simulation System, Many Vehicles

A single transit training sim can now be used to train operators on every vehicle type they might encounter on the job: New Flyers, Orions, 40-foot transit buses, articulated buses, smaller cut away vehicles, and more. 

For example, FAAC fabricated a swappable simulator for NICE (Nassau Inter-County Express) Bus, headquartered in New York. This is a large transit agency, with 600 operators working on more than 300 pieces of equipment. That equipment ranges from articulated buses and 40-foot transit buses to a variety of cut-away paratransit vehicles. 

“We have a constant training and renewal process,” explains Todd Chever, Director of Safety and Training for NICE. “Getting operators, for everybody, is a constant battle. So it’s got a lot of benefits, having a single simulator that accurately represents [our entire fleet]. Ours is primarily used as a New Flyer Bus—one of the primary vehicles we have here. But it’s fully adaptable to the variety of Orion, as well as our various cut-away vehicles. The mirrors are adaptable to anything you need.”

More importantly, many transit agencies are discovering that investing in sim with swappable panels means that their simulators can grow with their agency. As they add new vehicles to their fleet (such as EV buses), new panels can be added to their collection. No longer will a transit simulator be “frozen in time” upon delivery.