Sophisticated simulators contribute to safe navigation
The sophistication of ship simulators has shot up over the last 30 years, increasing their contribution to safe navigation in ports. Simulators have many uses and benefits beyond the training of new marine pilots and tug masters, and are set to develop further, as Dr Mark McBride explains.
In a similar way to how the look and feel of computer games has transformed over the last 30 years, the graphics on ship navigation simulators have become much more realistic. Both sectors have benefited from advances in computer-generated imagery (CGI) and the expansion in size and definition of screens, made possible by the mushrooming of computing power.
Rocketing processing power has also made a huge difference to the modelling behind the display screens as computers handle ever increasing amounts of data. As a result, scientists can build ever more accurate models of ships, ports, and environmental conditions including current and flows – all necessary for realistic simulations of navigation scenarios.
The higher quality of simulation, combined with the bespoke facilities designed for pilotage, have been key to the success and acceptance of simulation as a training tool. If tug masters or marine pilots are trying out a simulation of a new tug or ship in a port that they know well, their confidence will be boosted by seeing that a simulator correctly replicates existing navigation conditions and the layout of the port.