S'pore launches South-east Asia's first ship navigation simulator, pledges $80m fund for maritime R&D

 The simulator has a full mission ship bridge and a traffic service system that replicate real-life conditions.
The simulator has a full mission ship bridge and a traffic service system that replicate real-life conditions.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore Polytechnic (SP) now has on its premises a $1.2 million ship navigation simulator used for the training of ship crew, the first such equipment in South-east Asia.

The simulator, called Advanced Navigation Research Simulator (ANRS), has a full mission ship bridge and a traffic service system that replicate real-life conditions, allowing trainees to practise and be assessed without having to go out to sea.

The device combines simulated training with artificial intelligence (AI), which interprets intricate data collected by sensors such as glasses that track users' eye movement and headbands that register electrical brain activity.

Users' audio quality - a stammer, for instance - and their heart rate during a simulated crisis will also be logged so trainers have a better sense of their readiness.

Developers Singapore Maritime Academy, the Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety and software company Kongsberg Digital hope this will lead to better training programmes that can reduce the frequency of maritime incidents caused by human error.

ANRS does not replace the need for human trainers, but rather augments the training provided by them, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat at SP on Thursday (Oct 14) .

"It combines AI with actual experience," he said at the 11th Singapore Maritime Institute forum, where the simulator was launched.

He said he believes advancements in AI to be one of the frontiers in a time of rapid innovation, and added that as borders reopen and cross-country interactions increase, the ANRS can also be used to train seafarers from the region.

Mr Chee also announced an $80 million fund to support the Singapore Maritime Institute, a joint creation 10 years ago by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the Agency for Science, Technology and Research and the Singapore Economic Development Board, to conduct research and innovation in the sector.



A pair of vision-tracking glasses used in the Advanced Navigation Research Simulator. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM


Mr Chee Hong Tat giving his opening address during the “Maritime Safety in the 4.0 Era: Breaking New Frontiers” Forum 2021 at Singapore Polytechnic on Oct 14, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The money will be used over the next five years to attract and develop talent as well as invest in new smart technologies, amid pressing concerns including the climate crisis and shifting global supply chains.

Autonomous vessels, digital port operations and drones are possible fields for experiment.

The Singapore Maritime Institute has in the past generated successful projects that benefited local firms and were recognised internationally. For instance, a virtual tool used to create walk-through videos of vessels has been used commercially to familiarise crew members with their ship - a process previously conducted physically.

The institute said it wants to establish Singapore as a world-class maritime knowledge and innovation hub in the next decade.

Four memorandums of understanding to collaborate on various projects were signed at the forum, including research activities between MPA and the China Waterborne Transport Research Institute, and the Singapore Maritime Institute and University of Turku in Finland.