Page 10 - Navigator 19
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                 In 1972, MARIN was the second organisation in the world with a maritime simulator of its own. In terms of capabilities, it was completely incomparable to today’s simulators, say Bas Buchner and Jos van Doorn. “Back then, a silhouette of the port was made using cardboard and wood. A light was used to create the out-of-window view. The sensation of sailing was replicated by moving this light.”
How different is MARIN’s simulator practice today. Seven larger and smaller simulators, including a wide variety of peripheral equipment, are available both on an individual basis and in conjunction with
one another for the virtual, almost real-life testing of such things as new port infrastructure, ship designs and port calls with a variety of ships, but also for simulating special situations or analysing maritime accidents. Buchner: “From concept and design to operation, we
focus on maritime research and training for a wide variety of clients,
85 percent of whom are from the private sector. Simulations are the connecting element. In this way, we bring together people, knowledge and technology in a manner as realistic as possible.”
The pursuit of realism goes far. “When performing a manoeuvre on the simulator, the participant must have sweaty palms and a pounding heart, so to speak,” says Van Doorn. “During the training, we can for example also measure heart rate and brain activity. This helps us to understand why certain things happen in a certain way. As a result, we are better able to anticipate these situations in the future.”
The simulator configuration that MARIN is currently using was originally designed in 1992. “Over the years, everything on these simulators has been replaced,” says Buchner. “The software we use dates entirely from 2019, but the look & feel of the bridge, for example, still dates back to those early days. I sometimes call it a Vauxhall Viva with an electric motor.”
After years of preparation, MARIN is therefore pleased to announce that the finances are now in place for the realisation of a new Seven Oceans Simulator Centre. This was achieved with the support of, among others, the pilots. Together with future users, the specific requirements are currently being considered. The Dutch Maritime Pilots’ Organisation will also contribute to the final specifications of the centre. Construction is set to start in 2020, after which the simulator can be taken into operation in 2021.
The new simulator centre will be state-of-the-art, both in terms of visuals and underlying know-how and the corresponding software that is developed in-house. The most visible innovation, not yet seen anywhere else in the world, is the planned shape of the simulator: spherical, or, alternatively, cup-shaped. Van Doorn: “It will not only be
possible to have a 360-degree view, but also to look down. Thus, we come even closer to reality and are able to conduct research and offer training sessions in an even more realistic manner. For example when practicing the mooring of a ship, as pilots often do.”
Buchner and Van Doorn expect the sea to become even busier in the future. As a result, new and increasingly higher demands are made
of simulations. “Take the construction of wind farms, for example. Simulations can be helpful in the initial planning phase and thereafter to train people to navigate these wind farms. Furthermore, ships are continuously increasing in size, which makes it trickier to navigate the infrastructure in the ports. At what point is it still safe to enter and leave a port? Simulator technology enables us to provide guidelines for this. At MARIN, we are also developing an autonomously sailing ship ourselves. Simulations can teach us - but also pilots, port authorities and government bodies - more about the practical implications of this.”
All these types of research activities are also what distinguish MARIN’s simulation practice from others, conclude both members of MARIN’s management team. “There are plenty of good training centres in the world. However, what we do differently and to a greater degree is the development of new knowledge by means of simulation technology.”
‘When performing a manoeuvre on the simulator, the participant must have sweaty palms and a pounding heart’
  10 NAVIGATOR NL 2019 N°19

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