VR Technology Meets Drivers Ed Thanks To Boys & Girls Clubs

Teenagers learn essential driving skills through the same program UPS drivers use.

Learning how to drive can be stressful. Having the right tools and being able to practice driving skills in a safe environment is essential to young teens passing their driver’s tests, and helps keep parents sane during the learning process.

One program that launched in 2009 is called the UPS Road Code, and it has helped nearly 60,000 teens at 265 Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation and on US military installations overseas learn essential driving skills. With the support of The UPS Foundation, the UPS Road Code program has been revamped for The Boys & Girls Clubs of America to include VR technology that would give young learners between the ages of 13 and 18 access to a more modern and immersive driving learning experience .

Yes, 13 seems awfully young to start learning how to drive, but it’s about building skills over time!

Through the program, teenagers are able to practice their driving skills through an experience that looks and feels real thanks to 5K resolution and an ultra-wide 120 field of view delivered through HTC’s Vive Focus 3 VR headset. This version of the UPS Road Code is basically the same program used by actual UPS drivers for their own training, only slightly tweaked to focus on teen drivers by giving them a place to learn driver safety without real-world consequences.

To help with training, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America enlists actual UPS drivers to come in and be volunteer instructors to work with and guide teenagers through the VR training simulation.

In an official press release, Mike Belcher, Senior VP of Child Safety, Boys & Girls Clubs of America said, “The UPS Road Code program is incredibly important to equip teens with the skills they need to be safe and successful both on and off the road.” Belcher continues, “Not only do the VR headsets offer an immersive technology experience to better prepare teens for future workforce training experiences, but they further strengthen the impact of the UPS Road Code Program, prioritizing the safety of young people above all else.”

To help UPS turn their Road Code program into a VR learning experience the company turned to the Atlanta-based VR training solutions firm, Foundry 45, who took the 2009 program and brought in nine VR skill packs across three different scenarios and infused them into the UPS Road Code curriculum.

During an interview with VRScout, Dave Beck, VR Training Leader, and Partner at Foundry 45 said, “We’ve had a great relationship with UPS for years, and when they reached out to ask us to connect with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America about revamping their teen driver safety program with immersive technology we jumped at this chance.” Beck brought in his own personal perspective, saying, “As a parent of a kid who will get his driver’s license in the coming months, this is near and dear to my heart. I’m excited to see how this VR training technology will improve driver safety. ”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America sees this as an exciting and fun way to engage with the kids that come through their door while providing them with valuable information to help in the days ahead as they become young adults driving to jobs, college, or taking a road trip. It’ll even help when these young teens become parents themselves and can pass on safe driving skills to their own kids.

For Beck, every aspect of the UPS Road Code’s design is intentional to provide valuable and the highest-level educational experience necessary to “Reinforce the importance of road safety for teens as they take away valuable skills from this immersive virtual training program.” To learn more about UPS Road Code click here.

Image Credit: The Boys & Girls Club

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