How to Know the Engine Room Before Joining the Ship?

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  • VR start-up SeaBot XR could speed up the process of adjusting to new engine rooms for the crew.
  • A smartphone and cardboard box virtual reality (VR) headset familiarise crews with the layout of the ship.
  • Virtual Reality could train the engineer for emergencies faced in a new environment in a short time frame.

“In an emergency, it is vital to know the position of key elements in the engine room. A new virtual reality start-up could be a lifesaver”, says Craig Jallal in his article published in Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery.

“Not all sailors are good sailors” was a comment made to him once at a conference. The speaker was an engineer on a chemical tanker, and he related how when he joins a new ship, it could take him up to three days to get used to the motion of his new working environment.

When Jallal attended a conference on maritime start-ups held at the UK Chamber of Shipping the anecdote came back to him. The room was full of bright young things, who were given three minutes to pitch their concepts.

What was the idea?

One that intrigued Craig the most was the SeaBot XR, which uses a smartphone and a cardboard box virtual reality (VR) headset to familiarise crews with the layout of the ship before stepping on board.

How is it done?

The smartphone is sent the layout of the engine room, and the engineer places the smartphone in the VR headset. The engineer can freely explore the engine room but is also set a series of tasks to complete. The tasks are repeated in different ways. Apparently, this process is known as gamification of the learning process.

How does it help engineers?

The start-up that developed SeaBot XR is extending the VR to include tests on reactions to abnormal situations. In effect, the engineer can try and deal with an emergency in the engine room without the potential danger of physically taking part in a hands-on drill. Of course, VR would only be an addition to the real-life training required.

Will VR start-ups like SeaBot XR reduce the time for engineers to become familiar with unknown engine rooms? Almost certainly yes. Will it help with sea-sickness? Probably not, but there is bound to be a start-up somewhere working on that, too concluded Jallal.

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Source: Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

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