For the next stage of our project we're developing two learning programmes; one focused on automation on a citybus and the other looking at high speed long distance transit in a truck.
A good starting point for us is to determine the learning outcomes. By doing this we can understand how to structure the course material in a more precise way, resulting in a better experience for the student.
Based on stakeholder engagement and the project curriculum, we've determined that the learning outcomes will be based on the following subjects;
Understanding and reacting to vehicle automation alerts
For bus and truck pilots there'll need to a fundamental understanding about certain alerts and alarms. Subject to the legal framework established by regions / countries and the cooperation of manufacturers, there could be a common system of visual and audible alerts. This would help pilots react quicker if anything goes wrong, and allow them to make a better judgment call in a split second situation.
The problem is we don't yet know what these alerts and alarms will look or sound like, and so to create a learning outcome is something of a challenge! However, we know that road pilots will need to have faster thinking / reaction times and be required to work more in isolation. This means training today's drivers to take on more responsibility, be more decisive and improve situational awareness.
Emergency vehicle control and system override
Once a pilot's identified an alarm or alert they'll need to do something about it. No system can be truly fail-safe and it stands to reason that pilots must be familiar with the vehicle controls. They'll need to know how to access electronic and mechanical systems and deliver a solution to slow or stop the vehicle and bring it back under control.
Assuming vehicles will use a cloud-based system for navigation, speed and hazards, the pilot will need to remain vigilant to the threat of hijack and have the ability to follow procedure in emergencies.
Again, at this stage we can't know how these systems will work, so the learning outcomes will focus on working more independently, more desively and more logically. In the learning programme it will be possible to create scenarios that challenge a drivers' thinking and will help to improve control under pressure, which will be crucial...
Passenger and baggage safety
Bus drivers are already well trained on this subject, but there'll be an important difference. While today's driver sits behind a wheel, in the citybus of tomorrow he or she could be among the passengers. Expectation and responsibility for passenger and baggage safety will likely increase, so there'll need to be more recognition of risks and guidance on how to deal with them.
For this topic our learning programme will focus on situational awareness, so the outcomes will address things like passenger demographic, ability, positioning and vulnerability, while also dealing with correct / safe stowage of baggage, identifying bags and owners, securing loose and / or large items and ensuring the right areas of the bus are used by the right people.
Handling passenger rights
Most bus drivers are familiar with the need to help vulnerable people / people with impairment, but over time it will become necessary to understand a passenger's rights and any related legal implications.
As an example the EU sets laws that must be obeyed by its 27 members, and over time more laws will be created to protect people and their rights. It stands to reason that a bus pilot will need to understand the law and what it means, particularly when you factor in the interpretation of language and more responsibility.
Our learning outcomes will focus on understanding existing law and obligations, but also communication and care. Pilots will be expected to listen and to understand passengers.
Managing potential and actual conflict
If, as we believe, the bus pilot will work mainly in the ame area as the passengers then they'll be expected to mitigate and manage conflict between passengers and themselves or other passengers. While conflict management is already part of a driver's training, it's limited and often drivers are segregated from passengers. With an autonomous vehicle the segregated area may not exist...
The learning outcomes need to ensure that the road pilot is competent and able to handle conflict by adopting calm, reasoned and controlled behaviour. They'll need to adapt to situations, so personal and professional training will be necessary.
Managing automated payments and fraud
It seems that we're heading for a totally contactless payment future, and while in many ways that's a positive step it also presents some challenges. The bus road pilot may need to take payments when technology fails, and they'll need to be competent enough to use hardware as an alternative method to cloud-based autopay. They'll also need to identify fraud where possible, and while we don't know how the payment tech will evolve we do know that fraud will always be an issue.
The important thing here is to equip the drivers with the ability to control people getting on and off the bus as it reduces the risk of theft or fraud. Identifying cases of fraud by checking the identity of those boarding the bus will also act as a deterrent, so learning outcomes will need to include passenger awareness and management.
Great customer service
As with everything in the service industry great customer service is, and will continue to be, essential. The bus road pilot will be the face of the company, and increasingly bus companies will see the opportunity to grow passenger numbers by providing a clean, efficient and timely service. As such the pilot must be happy, engaging and willing at all times.
This means that we need to ensure that the learning process leads to drivers having more ability to engage with passengers and see themselves as customer service managers rather than drivers. In some cases it will be impossible for drivers to make that transition because it relies on personality and diplomacy, which tend to be character traits rather than something learned.
Handling / Managing pre-load carriers and autonomous systems
In the goods sector many drivers are familiar with automatic sheeting or loading technology, but forecasts suggest that loading will become increasingly automated. Onboard systems for loading / unloading and rotating / tilting walking floors will provide different automated solutions, so the road pilot will need to oversee the procedure and ensure the safety of others while doing so.
This means that the learning outcomes must demonstrate an ability to maintain the same standards and levels of competence to operate loading equipment. It also means that safety will need to be key part of the learning programme.
Load management in transit
This is already an important part of drivers' job, but the difference is that they have to combine it with other duties including driving. When a driver becomes a road pilot the responsibility for the load will probably increase, therefore it's more important to focus on load security training as part of our learning programme.
The outcomes will include load security competence, but depending on the type of loading system and container, we will need to focus on certain responsibilities and procedures.
Enhanced hazard awareness
Perhaps the most safety critical element of road pilot training will be the need for long periods of concentration without any manual intervention. A fully autonomous truck will act much in the same way as a commercial airliner does now, so lessons can be learned from the air industry.
Although we still don't know how full autonomy will work on public roads (particularly the legal framework) it's reasonable to suggest that a portion of the journey will be done automatically, with the last section done manually by the road pilot. Regardless, the pilots will need to remain vigilant at times when the truck is doing the work...
We will look to incorporate methods for hazard perception and concentration technique to result in outcomes that improve the pilots' cognative awareness.
Traffic volumes continue to increase, and if the trend continues then it will become increasingly difficult for the emergency services to arrive quickly at the scene of a road traffic collision. Often truck drivers are caught up in the situation, but opinion suggest they could do more than just look on...
By providing road pilots with the training and qualifications to deliver first responder assistance there'll be an opportunity to support the emergency services.
The perception of truck drivers is (sadly) quite low, but as the road pilot of an autonomous vehicle there are opportunities to raise this profile, particularly if skills include first aid, traffic management and trauma support.
Our learning outcomes will focus on providing new qualifications to professional drivers to help them make the transition to become a road pilot.
Safety and security checks
A fully autonomous truck will have advanced technology that will need to be routinely checked to ensure that it's in good working order. To mitigate against vandalism, theft, terrorism and migrant access the road pilot will be expected to perform detailed checks in a similar way as is currently done.
However, they will need training to identify advanced technology that may be faulty, and potentially use scanning equipment to identify foreign objects or people on board.
Our learning outcomes will be based on the current best practice advice for walk around checks, but with more focus on technical competence and emergency procedures.