AVRT – Adaptive VR Training sought the feedback of more than 1,000 police officers during the development of its new and improved platform, which will be used in a study on the efficacy of VR training for Taser-trained police officers
➨ The AVRT system was relaunched yesterday to showcase its new content and features to Derbyshire Constabulary
➨ Derbyshire Constabulary is partnering with Derby University on a study on the efficacy of VR training for Taser-trained police officers, using the AVRT system
➨ Derbyshire Constabulary will carry out the study in partnership with Derby University on 10 to 14 initial Taser training courses from this September to December
The revamped platform of UK-based AVRT – Adaptive VR Training for police and emergency services “really does take training to a new level”, according to one user at a relaunch event yesterday.
That was the verdict of Pete Moss, Taser training manager for Derbyshire Constabulary, which is partnering with Derby University on a study on the efficacy of VR training for Taser-trained police officers.
The study will pit VR training against the traditional method of using a live Taser and an instructor in a padded suit.
Derbyshire Constabulary will carry out the study in partnership with Derby University on 10 to 14 initial Taser training courses from this September to December.
Trainees will be asked about their experiences and results will be collated and analysed. The study will use the AVRT system that was relaunched yesterday.
The AVRT system has been in development for more than two years. It was created by two companies, one a VR specialist and the other a software developer with more than 20 years of experience working with emergency services in both the UK and internationally.
Together, they worked closely with operational police users so that they could design a training system that was based on the feedback of true experts in the field that experience, on a daily basis, the kinds of dynamic scenarios that AVRT presents.
The system is designed to simulate situations requiring a response from the officer, from basic conversation with subjects, up to and including the use of lethal and less-lethal force.
After two years, more than a thousand police officers have used and given feedback on the AVRT system.
According to Andy Higgs, co-founder and project manager at AVRT – Adaptive VR Training, this feedback has resulted in better assessment of actions, greatly reduced risk in training sessions, enhanced realism, and greater repeatability and flexibility of training sessions.
Higgs told VRWorldTech that the AVRT system also results in important cost savings over traditional training on consumable items such as ammunition and Taser cartridges. The system is also highly portable compared to equivalent systems that are fixed, warehouse-style installations.
He continued: “The AVRT philosophy has always been to seek out the advice of experts in the field to progress the development of the system.”
As a result of that philosophy, the 1,000+ police officers from more than 70% of UK police firearms and less-lethal departments have been through the system during development.
Higgs said: “Their feedback has helped improve with areas such as weapon behaviour and ballistics, scenario design based on actual training situations used by the police, and operational tactics, expectations and learning outcomes for training.”
The AVRT system was relaunched yesterday to showcase its new content and features to Derbyshire Constabulary.
These include new 3D environments such as rooftops for height hazard scenarios, and industrial areas. The existing portfolio includes interior and exterior environments, such as train stations, many of which are difficult for police officers to simulate.
Richer scenarios with background characters and artificial intelligence have also been introduced, to simulate reactions as the main events unfold. They also offer greater configurability, with new weapons, characters and actions available.
Central to the AVRT system is the Oculus Quest headset, because “this offers us a reliable and stable platform while being cost effective and providing easy access to users who may not be familiar with VR tech”. Higgs explained.
He said: “It has always been the AVRT ethos to use consumer tech where possible due to the benefits of cost, stability and support.”
“Added to this is then our custom-built weapons systems and a room-scale tracking system. The combination of hardware that we use was chosen to give us all of the benefits while recognising that most of our users won’t be experienced users of VR.”
Members of Derbyshire Constabulary who attended the relaunch yesterday were highly impressed with the AVRT system.
Taser training manager Pete Moss said: “The program that has been developed by the AVRT team really is a game changer for our training of officers in the use of Taser.”
“The realism really does have to be seen to be believed and the work the AVRT team have done to ensure that officers are able to use the same equipment they would when they are out on patrol has been absolutely outstanding.”
According to Moss, being able to put officers in realistic situations, rather than the traditional staged simulations, “really does take the training to a new level”.
He said: “With this we can help give officers more time in scenarios, which means they are even better prepared should they need to use a Taser in a critical moment.”
It’s that commitment to realism that seems to be winning the plaudits for VR training systems as organisations seek more cost-effective alternatives to traditional methods.
It will be interesting to see the results of Derbyshire Constabulary and Derby University study on VR versus traditional training when they are released.
If the AVRT system can deliver effective training backed by hard, independently verified data, then police forces and emergency services across the country will likely follow Derbyshire Constabulary’s example.
Main image: Derbyshire Constabulary officers using the AVRT system during a relaunch event yesterday