Immersive Virtual Reality Training for Inspecting Flagger Work ZonesAuthor/Presenter: Chang, Daeyeol; Hopfenblatt, James; Edara, Praveen; Balakrishnan, Bimal
Construction and maintenance work on roads pose safety risks to both drivers and workers. The responsible agencies regularly inspect work zones for compliance with traffic control and signage standards. The current training practice is to review documents related to temporary traffic control and reports from previous inspections, typically Power Point files with pictures. It would be beneficial if a new mechanism for training could be developed that is as effective as field visits but without the amount of time and effort required to visit multiple field sites. This study developed an immersive training module for transportation agency staff that inspect flagger operations in road construction and maintenance work zones. Human flaggers are commonly used to control traffic at work zones on two lane highways (one lane in each direction). The main objective of the proposed training is to deliver a realistic experience to trainees in an immersive virtual environment using the current traffic control protocols and standards. The module creation consisted of three steps. First, the roadway geometrics, work zone signage, traffic control devices, and the natural environment was created. Second, motion capture technology was used to replicate the actual movement of a human flagger directing traffic in a work zone. The environment and flagger avatar created in the first two steps were integrated and implemented in a simulation in the third step. The module was demonstrated to inspection staff at one state department of transportation (DOT) and revised based on their feedback. The state DOT staff were highly receptive to the use of virtual reality for training and commented on the benefits of the immersive experience that is lacking in their current training practices.