Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/528099
54 Proceedings Summer 2015 www.uscg.mil/proceedings The New Portable Pilot Unit Ever since laptop computers were introduced in the late 1990s, ship pilots in many harbors around the world have been utilizing them to run electronic charting system soft- ware. Pilots throughout the U.S. now use portable pilot units, or PPUs; however, the principal complaints most pilots have with PPUs are that they are bulky enough to make climbing a pilot ladder diffcult and take time to set up — time that could be used to conduct a proper master/pilot exchange. Recent discussions with active pilots revealed that there is great interest in the pilot community in WIAR applications to support, or even replace, the PPU. Many pilots stressed the importance of not providing too much information; one stated that all that was required was a constant readout of course and speed and possibly channel limit lines. This amount of navigational information would probably not be suffcient for most mariners, especially when entering unfamiliar waters. But pilots, as experts in their geographic region, require more focused information such as ship posi- tion, course, and speed, and location of other vessels. The rest they carry in their heads. The small screen and narrow feld of view common to WIAR devices may not present any diffculties for navigators with high levels of expertise, such as pilots. Navigational Aids and Maritime Security Issues The U.S. Coast Guard maintains some 49,000 fxed and foat- ing navigational aids, and the costs associated with this vast assignment are enormous. In this era of budgetary constraints, AIS virtual and synthetic ATONs have been proposed as inexpensive replacements for many existing traditional aids, particularly ones located in remote or envi- ronmentally sensitive areas. The primary objection to this approach is that not all vessels (particularly small craft) carry the electronic equipment needed to show these virtual ATONs in a useful manner; namely large radar or ECDIS displays. Wearable immersive augmented reality systems may provide a solution. Additionally, navigation in high-speed small craft at night or in reduced visibility can be extremely challenging. The boat operator is often alone or with minimal crew support. When the mission is one of a law enforcement or military nature, the diffculties are magnifed tremendously and WIAR navi- gation could make the task safer and more effective. Looking Ahead Safe navigation in the maritime domain is a complex task, requiring training, skill, and a level of attention to an extent not found in some other transportation modes. As vessels continue to become larger, faster, and ever more numer- ous, and the navigable waterways of the world continue to shrink due to claims from other users (wind farms and aquaculture, for example), mariners need tools to assist them in avoiding collisions and groundings. Loss of situational awareness can and does happen to even the most experienced navigator. The true measure of any navigation system or device is its ability to assist the mari- ner in maintaining situational awareness in even the most challenging situations. Augmented reality may hold the key to allowing navigators to keep that all-important situational The crew of the Greenbrier maintains aids to navigation along inland waterways. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Offcer Jonathan McCool. WIAR Research and Development Interest in wearable immersive technology is increasing and is expected to accelerate in the coming decade, and, as such tech- nologies are introduced and integrated into shipboard naviga- tional environments, questions persist about the afect of such systems on navigational safety. Conducting a thorough evalua- tion of the impact, value, and risks of using these tools, before they are introduced into the bridge environment, provides the opportunity to develop empirically obtained guidance for their development and use. Therefore a detailed research program should be designed to: ■ determine what navigational information should be displayed; ■ evaluate wearable immersive augmented reality efective- ness in presenting navigational information; ■ evaluate task-based support, such as identifying landmarks, following routes, collision avoidance, decision making, to determine in which contexts WIAR is most efective; ■ compare WIAR navigation to that of standard electronic navigation systems such as radar and ECDIS; ■ identify and evaluate risks and risk control options for wear- able immersive augmented reality systems.