Ditch Witch claims first virtual-reality training kit for HDD operators

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Updated Oct 31, 2018
Ditch Witch’s virtual-reality training kit that can be purchased at dealerships includes VR goggles, a portable operator station and joysticks similar to those on the company’s HDDs.Ditch Witch’s virtual-reality training kit that can be purchased at dealerships includes VR goggles, a portable operator station and joysticks similar to those on the company’s HDDs.

Ditch Witch has introduced the first virtual-reality simulator for training operators on horizontal directional drills, the company says.

The simulator gives HDD operators a 360-degree view of the virtual jobsite, which includes simulating a variety of soil conditions and installation applications. Users, from novices to veterans, are taught operating skills and then evaluated, while the lessons gradually become more difficult.

“Our next-generation HDD VR Simulator takes training to the next level by allowing operators to familiarize themselves with HDD equipment and experience a realistic jobsite without the potential risks of putting a novice operator in a complex environment,” says Greg Wolfe, Ditch Witch director of training.

The company notes that the 2017 DIRT Report by the Common Ground Alliance found that 52 percent of reported damages to underground utilities last year were caused by poor excavation practices.

Ditch Witch says it has made its simulator replicate what operators see and feel on the job. It uses the same joysticks as used on the company’s HDDs. The VR kit also includes a portable operator station, dongle, lead motion detector sensor and VR goggles.

The simulator teaches machine functions, product location, damage prevention, extended bend radius and steering. It requires operators to plan the job to prevent damage, set up equipment correctly and test protective systems, the company says.

The simulator can be purchased at Ditch Witch dealerships.