DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --
The 436th Airlift Wing’s inaugural Squadron Innovation Fund invested in the training capabilities of the 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron as the 2019 SIF kicks off.
Last year, Dover AFB received $400,000 to innovate around the base as part of a broader Air Force innovation initiative. One of those innovations, a new driving simulator, is expected to pay huge dividends this year.
The simulator features four monitors, three pedals, a steering wheel, an adjustable chair and a gear shift to make it as realistic as possible.
Different settings on the simulator allow the operators to decide what road conditions and vehicle they would like to drive in. This allows for variety in training, which can help Airmen overcome fears of driving specialized vehicles in a slew of conditions.
The simulator combines training with future tech according to Tech. Sergeant Vidal Laurel, 436th LRS noncommissioned officer in charge of training validation and operations.
“With technology advancing every day, it bleeds over into our work force,” Laurel said. “Using the simulator is a great start into developing more confident and ready drivers.”
When operating the simulator, every action has a reaction. Running over a curb will jerk the steering wheel; missing a gear will stall the vehicle and driving in snowy conditions will make the vehicle slide if operated incorrectly.
The simulator not only helps the Airmen assigned to the logistics readiness squadron, but anyone at the wing.
“It teaches somebody who’s never driven how to drive, and then it teaches us in the heavy equipment vehicle realm, and how to drive each particular vehicle,” Laurel said.
Operating heavy equipment requires more in-depth expertise, time and effort to learn. First time use of just about anything isn’t going to go how you want it to, and accidents involving heavy equipment are often costly.
“With us going out there and manually doing it, especially with a tractor trailer, it isn’t uncommon to break a vehicle because we’re learning how to drive it,” Laurel said. “It’s a great tool to potentially reduce accidents on the base and not just with our vehicles or heavy equipment but any Airman driver. It also helps drivers attain certifications for specific licensing.”
The 436th LRS hopes the simulator will assist as many people as possible to safely learn how to operate vehicles before getting behind the wheel of a real one and potentially damaging government equipment or causing harm to another person.
“It’s not the most advanced simulator, but so far, it has done everything we’ve asked and then some.”