VR at sea – new Lighthouse study
It is difficult to practice accidents. In addition, dangerous. However, in a virtual world, fires can be extinguished and lifeboats released into the sea without risks and repeated over and over.
A new pre-study from Lighthouse shows that VR environments have great potential as a complement to today's security training.
Ever since the VR-technology appeared, it has been strongly associated with the gaming industry, but today more and more applications are being developed with industrial utility. In shipping, a virtual world could contribute to safer rescue efforts. The question is just how? This is precisely what the Lighthouse study "VR to Sjöss" conducted by researchers at RISE, Chalmers and Linnaeus University (all members of Lighthouse) investigate.
The study has been divided into three parts; a literature study of existing applications, three workshops and a conceptual phase in which particularly interesting applications were selected.
The literature study shows, among other things, that there is a lack of research that examines both the training methodology and the effects of new safety training techniques. More studies are needed, not least because the potential of the technology is high.
Several advantages are identified:
• A visual and interactive learning process becomes more appealing and engaging than traditional learning methods.
• Risky and complex situations can easily be identified.
• It provides economical savings. The costs of extensive practice in a real environment are often very high. VR technology is gradually becoming cheaper and also allows for mass training.
• Exercises can be done remotely. Students do not need to be on the actual platform.
The pre-study's three different workshops – of which two were conducted together with students and teachers in Swedish naval education and one jointly with a game design company working with VR solutions – confirms the potential of VR technology. For example, it could expand the possibility of exploring incidents and emergencies on board from different perspectives in a safe environment, enabling remote training for both active seafarers and naval students. On the other hand, participants stressed that VR technology could not replace all training, but rather should be seen as a complement to today's safety training.
Some critical aspects also emerged that should be explored more before digital education is digitized. A clear example is simply the lack of knowledge in the area. How does VR work pedagogically and how effective is it as an educational instrument? Can it create false security? How do you check that the education delivers what is required? What happens if the technology crashes?
However, the benefits weigh over. The study's conceptualization phase states that VR technology has great potential to contribute to interactive learning in maritime safety training. Two thematic areas are considered particularly interesting; fire aboard and evacuation of ships. These are also the subjects of the project application that the pre-study generated.