Virtual Reality Training Program Created for Forklift Operators

A NIOSH grant funded Tactus Technologies' development of the 3D Forklift Trainer. The Amherst, N.Y. company is a spinoff from the University of Buffalo.

Using a NIOSH grant, a company named Tactus Technologies has developed a virtual reality training program for forklift operators that the company's leaders believe will reduce injuries and deaths associated with forklift accidents. The 3D Forklift Trainer allows operators to practice handling a variety of safety challenges on a system similar to a video game, with a steering wheel, joystick, and pedals, inside virtual warehouses, elevators, and other settings, Cory Nealon, a media relations manager for the University of Buffalo (UB), reported March 8. Tactus Technologies is a spinoff company of the university.

The 3D Forklift Trainer allows operators to practice handling a variety of safety challenges on a system similar to a video game. (Tactus Technologies image)"Until recently, such virtual reality technologies were only available to military and university laboratories, By pioneering the use of gaming technology and computers in our software, we are able to offer the 3D forklift simulator at a low and reasonable cost for industrial safety training," Thenkurussi "Kesh" Kesavadas, co-founder of the company and UB professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, said in Nealon's article. Kesavadas also is the director of the UB Virtual Reality Lab.

The company's other co-founder and CEO, Jim Mayrose, said VR training has a key advantage over traditional forklift training, which includes classroom instruction, videos, and observation before operators get behind the wheel to learn on the job. "The problem is that this type of training is passive rather than interactive," Mayrose said. "Companies using our product will find that they have shorter training cycles with less supervision needed and, most importantly, a safer environment."

On average, it takes three to four hours to complete the simulator program, Nealon reported.

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