When accidents strike, the crew’s ability to handle the situation may mean the difference between life and death. In the wake of disasters like the sinking of MF Estonia in 1994, in which more than 800 people lost their lives, the demands for crew safety training have become ever more stringent.
Because maritime safety training has traditionally been conducted by staging large-scale training exercises on real ferries, this training has been very resource demanding – the ferry needs to be taken out of service and instructors, crew members and passenger stand-ins all have to come together for the exercise to take place. In collaboration with companies from the maritime safety business, EU supported a project aimed at developing a virtual training tool, one that would be able to replace expensive large-scale exercises. This is the Team Safety project; of which Unity Studios was the full software development partner.
We created a simulator that functions as a first person, multi-player computer game that simulates various on-sea catastrophes with AI controlled passengers. The crew in training wears 3D head-mounted displays and move around the ferry in an open multi-user environment. They experience the crisis and train their emergency procedures in cooperation with each other, in a safe and low-cost environment.
As the simulation runs, the instructor can follow each trainee on his computer to check his or her performance. Once the exercise is over, the instructor is able to rewind the session to review each trainee’s performance with concrete examples of what he/she did right or wrong.
The simulation is built as a realistic copy of a real ferry – Crown of Scandinavia – with functioning safety systems such as fire alarms and sprinklers. This ensures that the exercises are run in a credible environment, which is vital for the exercises to be able to train the crew in keeping their calm during real life incidents.