microcomputer simulation. How well the trajectories could be achieved during actual operations of all but the most sophisticated vessels on well-known routes is an open question. (It has been established through actual operations and extensive field testing involving passenger ferries serving ports in the Baltic Sea region that computers can be used to automatically maneuver ships on precise trajectories along well-known pilot routes [NCR, 1994]).
Because of the apparent necessity to rely heavily on instruments for maneuvering decisions and the tighter swept paths obtained using simulation during the DMI research, it is possible that better accuracy of maneuvering may be possible during desktop simulations than during actual operations. There are no data to determine whether this is the case; there are no data or research to determine whether the results of ship-bridge and desktop simulators are comparable; and there are no data to determine whether different cognitive skills are used to achieve the results. In the absence of full-bridge instrumentation, accurate replication of essential visual information, and well-defined job-task criteria to guide assessments, there is a very limited scientific basis for ascertaining which tasks or individual skills might be evaluated in a desktop simulator or whether or to what degree they could be correlated with actual operations.
The uncertainty over the results of desktop maneuvering simulations has implications for the application of this technology in passage planning. Although desktop simulators can potentially deliver accurate representations of maneuvering scenarios, there are uncertainties with respect to the degree to which the results represent vessel and mariner behavior in real life. The onboard maneuvering simulations would also be affected by the traffic conditions that exist at the time of passage, a factor that cannot be predicted for each individual transit.
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