We like computer games, but is this really a good idea?
Lincolnshire police are upping their game – literally. With a little help from Sony, Her Majesty's finest are seeing whether the much-anticipated Gran Turismo Sport game on the Playstation 4 can actually make them better pursuit drivers.
The Boys in Blue won't be spending too much time on the sofa – it's an experiment to see if simulated measures can actually translate into real-world results. Officers went to Silverstone to record live laps, then got behind computer steering wheels to run the track through GT Sport, while getting instruction on how to reduce lap times.
Afterward, the officers went back on track to try and best their previous times, using what they learned from the game.
According to Lincolnshire’s assistant chief constable Shaun West, the training could offer an alternate way to supplement existing training procedures, but will never replace live in-car training.
It’s not like simulations aren’t used in other genres – GT Academy immediately comes to mind for racing, and at some point every single airline pilot has trained extensively on simulators. But learning the track, or how to conduct standard-rate turns in an aircraft is far different than the unfamiliar, split-second action that officers face in high-speed pursuits.
To Lincolnshire’s credit, the press release emphasises over and over that such simulated driving is merely an experiment to see if it could help in addition to regular training. The department was also keen to point out that Sony footed the entire bill for the exercise, so hard-working taxpayers weren’t on the hook for the officers' day of extensive sim racing.
Did it actually work? Possibly, but the results aren’t conclusive. Lincolnshire PD does say some officers were able to reduce lap times while also increasing smoothness and stability. But whether that was due to the sim training or just more on-track time isn't clear.
Gallery: Police training with Gran Turismo Sport
Police partner with PlayStation to explore additional driver training
We have recently worked with PlayStation to explore supplementary driver training methods by testing out their latest Gran Turismo game.
Four of our specialist operations officers spent the day at the Silverstone race circuit where they tested the newest game and its effects on driving, all to explore whether additional methods could help boost established police training structures.
ACC Shaun West explained: “Our officers met with experts at GT Academy at Silverstone to investigate whether the alternate route they offer to professional drivers - training players virtually using Gran Turismo and then transitioning them to real-world track driving – could offer Lincolnshire Police an alternate way of looking at how we develop and supplement our existing training methods.”
After clocking an initial lap time at Silverstone,the officers were coached using GT Sport–including an all-new virtual reality mode-to develop their driving skills by highlighting and improving efficiency whilst playing the game. Any areasfor improvement such as under or oversteer, braking late and carrying too much speed in corners were identified, with GT Sport used to demonstrate correct techniques and best practice to keep the car safe. The officers then returned to the track to see if the virtual reality coaching had helped them in real-world driving.
The results showed that some of the officers managed to reduce their lap times and increase smoothness and stability in their driving.
ACC West said: “There will never be a replacement for traditional training methods but we are always looking for innovative ways to supplement the learning of our officers and staff. If Gran Turismo can help to train world class racing drivers, then we were keen to explore whether it could offer anything to our officers and help expand the way we think about evolving and refreshing our training methods.
“It’s important to emphasise that exploring other methods such as this is not in any way seeking to substitute the rigorous training we already have in place but is simply another way to potentially bolster those existing programmes that our officers undertake.”
Laurence Wiltshire,Managing Director of GT Academy said:“GT Academy has proven that the skills learned via Gran Turismo directly transfer from the virtual track on to there alone.This is thanks to the incredibly accurate simulation of the tracks but more importantly the simulation of the cars, their physics and how they handle.GT Sport is the best in the series history and, with the addition of VR mode, offers the most realistic driving simulation yet. It’s one thing to train racing drivers but the idea that a game could help officers respond to emergencies more efficiently is mind-blowing.”
ACC West added: “Because road safety is of paramount importance in Lincolnshire we want to ensure our practices are as up-to-date and innovative as possible. Our F4tal 4 campaign focuses on the four main causes of injury and death on the roads: drink/drug driving, speeding, mobile phones and seatbelts. Anyone who chooses not to comply with the standards outlined in Fatal4, and is therefore putting themselves and other members of the public at risk, must do so within the realms of a game like GT Sport or on a racetrack like Silverstone. We don’t want that kind of driving on Lincolnshire’s roads.
“Also, we’re really keen to progress our immersive learning and exploring this type of training fits that brief well. We regularly ask ourselves: what more could we do to ensure our officers are trained to the highest standards while also accommodating the needs of a workforce that works varied hours, in a number of locations, and has different needs and expectations of respective roles? Taking technology like we have trialed in GT Sport, and the software that is in devices like our Mobile Data Terminals which, for example, may allow us to offer immersive learning in areas such as Child Sexual Exploitation, and means we are exploring different ways to enhance and augment our traditional training methods. Ensuring we utilise the skills and learning of our officers and staff means they can only offer a better service to the people of Lincolnshire.
“For all of these reasons, not to mention the fact that this also offered us a chance to do something different and at no extra cost to the taxpayer because PlayStation covered all the associated expenses, we were really pleased to work with them on this experience and found the results of this really interesting. It’s something we will certainly take away and think about and see if we can use any elements of it in the future to add on to our established training methods.”
GT Sport is out on October 18.