Video game-inspired forklift simulator could reduce injuries and deaths

Simulator developed by Tactus Technologies, a spinoff company from the University at Buffalo.

By ·

Tactus Technologies, a spinoff company from the University at Buffalo, has developed a first-of-its-kind virtual reality training program for forklift operators, a product that company officials expect will reduce work-related injuries and deaths.

The program, called the 3D Forklift Trainer, allows operators to practice with a video game-like system that features a steering wheel, joystick, pedals and simulated environments such as warehouses, elevators and railroad tracks.

The simulator arose from a need to improve operator readiness, said Jim Mayrose, chief executive officer and co-founder of Tactus.

According to Occupational Safety and Health and Administration (OSHA) standards, improper forklift operations cause roughly 100 fatalities and more than 100,000 injuries annually in the United States.

“Until recently, such virtual reality technologies were only available to military and university laboratories,” said Thenkurussi “Kesh” Kesavadas, Tactus co-founder and UB professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “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.”

Kesavadas is also director of the UB Virtual Reality Lab.

Current training typically involves a combination of classroom-based lectures, videos and observation before “on-the-job training” propels operators into the driver’s seat.

“The problem is that this type of training is passive rather than interactive,” Mayrose said.

Created with a grant from the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health, the simulator incorporates safety lessons aligned with OSHA standards.

Lesson plans require reacting to safety challenges – such as ramps, elevators and people – that reinforce the use of correct techniques. Personal profiles track trainee progress and evaluate performance. On average, it takes three to four hours to complete the simulator program.

“Companies using our product will find that they have shorter training cycles with less supervision needed and, most importantly, a safer environment,” Mayrose said.

Customers will receive a full license for the 3D Forklift Trainer software, a customized computer, as well as a steering wheel and pedals. A 60-inch screen and specialized forklift-type seating is optional. A commercial version of the trainer, which features a standard warehouse environment, is also available. The program may be customized so that the environment matches that of the company.

It is available to companies of all sizes, with the first installation site at the Cummins engine plant in Jamestown.

Tactus is a pioneer in 3D Virtual Reality training solutions and has developed the next generation of physics-based software libraries that allow for real-time interaction, simulation, and visualization. The company is based in Amherst, a suburb of Buffalo.

For more information about the company and the services it offers, please visit: www.tactustech.com.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Education · Forklifts · Lift Trucks · Safety · Technology · · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
The Overlooked Competitive Advantage: Connected Teams
57% of surveyed manufacturers believe they could reduce downtime by 10-30% by unifying their workgroup communications. What does a minute of downtime cost you?
Download Today!
From the January 2018 Modern Materials Handling Issue
PFS built one of the largest and most automated AS/RS freezers in the world in Washington state. Next up is a new design for automation. Automated Storage/ Automated Retrieval System, Cold Storage.
Lift Truck Series Part 1: Lift truck technology connects pickers to productivity
Breaking Through On Yard Visibility
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Emerging Technologies for Your Distribution Center
Come get an insider's view of the latest technologies for inside your Distribution Center. You'll learn which technologies are being piloted, which are having success and moving from concept to implementation and into production on the maturity scale, and what's coming on the horizon.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Trinchero Family Estates: Pallet handling in the vineyard
The second-largest family-owned wine company in the world turns to automated pallet handling and...
System Report: Rocky Brands Sees the Light
Confronting an aging materials handling system and new channels of business with new customer...

Top 20 industrial lift truck suppliers, 2017
The top lift truck suppliers list is changing with industry acquisitions causing a dramatic...
Lodge Manufacturing: Distribution Cast in Iron
In a new facility, iPhones and a new WMS allowed cookware manufacturer Lodge to double its business...