The company contracted to build the trains, Stadler, provided drivers VR headsets to check out different concepts for the train cabs. This virtual tour of potential designs gives the designers a unique form of feedback.
Drivers will be able to see their new work environments in first person and offer suggestions and changes even before any physical prototypes have been developed or built. Nexus, the public body that operates the Metro, believe that this will be a useful tool to get drivers and other train crews ready for the rollout of their new £362m fleet.
The data provided by the feedback will be sent back to the Stadler designers in Switzerland in order for them to make any appropriate changes to the cab before production begins in 2021. Stadler is building a total of 46 new Metro trains for Nexus, which will be delivered up to 2024.
Metro Development Director, Neil Blagburn, said:
“Virtual reality is a highly versatile design tool that allows us to consult our drivers in a Covid secure way.
“The technology delivers a wholly immersive experience that allows them to explore the computer-generated cab and provide feedback that the designers can use to refine the cab design. As many of our 155 drivers as possible will be taking time out to use the VR headsets over a nine-week consultation period.
Adrian Wetter, Project Manager at Stadler, said:
“Stadler makes use of technology to get feedback from its clients, their staff and passengers throughout the build process and to ensure that the right train is built for them. Using virtual reality headsets as part of driver training is one example of this.
“The kit enables drivers to get a feel for the new trains from the very early stages of the project and means that they can prepare for them well in advance. This ultimately saves time and resources.
Furthermore, comments and observations from drivers on the experience is essential for the cab design, contributing to its overall usability and comfort.”