Thales Shows Bridge Simulator at I/ITSEC 2014

On display at I/ITSEC was a bridge simulator put together with Transas Americas (Seattle), AVT Simulation (Orlando) and Coastal Manufacturing (Seattle). This features a very powerful marine database that can be used to help with navigation and emergency training on ships of all sizes.

While the demo at I/ITSEC was somewhat generic, it leverages a recent design win for the team last June from the US Navy’s Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD). This was for the design, fabrication, installation and testing of the US Navy’s new Zumwalt Class DDG-1000 Full Mission Bridge (FMB) Training Simulator to be located at the DDG-1000 Shore Based Training Facility, Naval Base San Diego, California. It also includes the supply of two new Surface Warfare Officers School Command (SWOS) DDG-1000 training capabilities.

Thales’ approach is to build a modular platform that can accept “real gear”-like navigation, docking or mapping hardware, plus custom built consoles to mimic various actual command surfaces. At I/ITSEC, the company used three flat panels for the visuals, but the system can scale to support full 360-degree bridge visuals.

We also noted that many of the control surfaces for the ship use touch panels even though actual ships will not implement these. Why? There are concerns about accuracy and errors and the ability to interact when wearing gloves or with greasy hands. So while the simulator does not fully replicate the actual bridge, the flexibility to reconfigure these command surface modules outweighs the advantages of developing actual hardware.

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Interestingly, President George Toma told us that bridge simulators are no longer installed on motion platforms. He says the CG is now good enough that operators feel they are on a ship. This seemed hard to fathom andToma told a story of a Swedish ship that does 57 knots and can stop from that speed in just a few seconds. How does it do this? The ship actually turns around and blasts water in the direction of travel to slow the ship. When this manoeuvre was done in the simulator, Toma says he actually fell on the floor even though he knew it was coming and he had braced himself – all with no motion platform! OK, I guess I believe it. (CC)