Editor Martyn Wingrove tested a virtual reality training program developed by Korean Register for surveyors
Virtual reality (VR) is seen by classification societies and training organisations as the next stage in developing technology to improve seafarer competence and performance. It uses technologies developed for design simulation and gaming and adapts it for maritime applications.
Class society the Korean Register of Shipping has adopted VR technology for specialist training for its surveyors and will soon use it for shipping companies. The Classmate survey simulator program immerses its surveyors in an interactive simulator of a ship model to test their investigative skills and competence.
According to Korean Register business development manager Jik Lee, this is only the beginning of what is possible from VR technology. “We are in the final stages of introducing VR training simulation for fire drills,” he told Marine Electronics & Communications. “It can also be used for simulation training for fire-fighting and rescue operations,” he explained.
“VR can be used for simulation training for fire-fighting and rescue operations”
A trainee using this technology would wear an immersion head-mounted display and use a handheld controller to travel around the virtual ship. These are connected to a monitor to enable the trainer to view what the trainee sees. The simulated environment uses realistic light sources and materials while recreating a 3D ship model using actual drawings.
Marine Electronics & Communications editor Martyn Wingrove tested the visualisation and accuracy of the program during demonstrations at the Posidonia exhibition in Athens, Greece in June. He interacted with the 3D ship model and selected objects to display different types of information.
Using the handheld device, trainees can jump between different areas of the ship or virtually walk to them. They can select different tools for interacting with equipment on the ship, such as opening doors or inspecting machinery.
Mr Lee said the complete program questions trainees and surveyors at each stage, scores their responses and grades them against industry expectations. It is already being used by class surveyors.
Korean Register is developing an enhanced VR-based multi-role training simulator to create onboard emergency situations covered by the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. These training programs could be simplified to operate on a laptop computer and be easily adapted to different types of ships.
VR for tankers
Training technology providers have also produced VR packages, first for trials, and then for practical application. Kongsberg Digital has introduced a 3D virtual application for its K-Sim Cargo simulator with the first program developed for crude tankers. This 3D application simulates the deck area of very large crude carriers (VLCCs) in high definition.
It was developed to train cargo deck operations and accompanies the 3D enginerooms within Kongsberg’s existing K-Sim Engine simulator. It enables trainees to interact with systems encountered on actual VLCC decks and in enginerooms.
The first cargo deck model of the 3D virtual application is based on the deck of VLCC Kiho and was delivered to the Magsaysay training centre in Manila, the Philippines in May. Kongsberg said the company will update existing K-Sim Cargo simulators with these virtual solutions over the next few years.
Videotel has also developed programs using VR technology for engineering officers, which include a virtual 360˚ engineroom space. Engineers can perform maintenance tasks using wireless motion tracking controllers. Videotel is using gamification techniques in training programs to increase trainee interaction, taking the best elements of digital game playing, such as points scoring and award winning, to encourage greater user engagement.