Cyprus-based Prevention at Sea Group has launched an innovative Virtual Reality (VR) based maritime training and assessment solution called IMMERSEAV. The move follows four years of extensive R&D activity, the company says, carried out in close collaboration with reputable shipping stakeholders.
The IMMERSEAV solution is described as utilising the ‘prevention’ approach of its group’s name, and blending maritime expertise and Virtual Reality technology with scientific knowledge gained from the disciplines of psychology and neuroscience
Petros Achtypis, CEO of Prevention at Sea, explains that the majority of accidents are still caused by human error and unsafe behavior, despite the best efforts of the ISM (International Safety Management) Code and STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) to eradicate such behaviour, suggesting that “more needs to be done”.
“The conclusions from scientific research on mental health are communicated to the maritime industry by the recently released INTERTANKO/OCIMF Behavioural Assessment guides,” he says, “clearly stating that new assessment and training tools are needed to enable shipping companies staff their ships with skillful, well-trained beyond typical STCW courses, and psychologically resilient personnel.”
Prevention at Sea believes that cognitive mechanisms, such as Selective Attention and Working Memory, are largely overlooked during the hiring process. For example, hiring personnel usually involves in-person or remote interviews via video calls, and typically relies on administering basic tests to evaluate skills and technical knowledge, Sea staff also receive theoretical training before embarkation or while on board by means such as video-based e-courses but do not receive “full immersion and interacton with the working environment” in actual and realistic conditions, leading to “clear limitations in assessing safety or cognitive behavior under stressful conditions.”
IMMERSEAV therefore seeks to address these shortcomings, explains Petros Achtypis. “But it is not just another VR training system,” he says. “It is built using a wireless VR Headset operating both online and offline and consists of a library of various Maritime VR scenarios.Seafarers are immersed individually or as a team on a virtual ship and they are invited to carry out tasks for training purposes or tasks that assess their competency skills and cognitive performance.
“Furthermore, these tasks can be carried out either under normal or stressful conditions, allowing IMMERSEAV to determine resilience to external stressors. Results are securely kept under the candidate’s account on the cloud, in line with GDPR rules.’ A trainer can join in the VR task remotely, as can a team of team of seafarer.s
Petros Achtypis concludes: “We are confident that we have built a solution, aligned to TMSA (Tanker Management Self-Assessment) and DryBMS requirements, that fits all needs and is in the correct direction of minimising accidents in our industry.”