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In the research area of maritime automation, the focus is on the Human Factor challenges in developments such as autonomous sailing, smart shipping, bridge resource management and resilience.
Just like in the automotive industry, the transition from manned to fully autonomous sailing will take place step by step. But even ‘fully-autonomous’ systems, should be considered as a joint human-automation collaboration, because there will always be instances where human action in some form is required. The related question is, what are the prerequisites for meaningful human remote control.
Central to this research area is socio-technical system thinking. Meaning, that the performance of the whole (e.g. a ship) cannot be explained from a single component (e.g. the mate) but must be seen as the result of interaction of all components (people, technology, collaboration, organizational culture etc.). This also forms the basis for resilience engineering research: how can a socio-technical system adjust its functioning prior to, during, or following events (changes, disturbances, and opportunities), and thereby sustain required operations under both expected and unexpected conditions.
Research into bridge resource management, is focused on how adequate joint situation awareness is build up and what are the socio-technical aspects that influences that process. The bridge simulator training of future sea fearers during their education contributes to a great extent to their competences, skills and self-efficacy. The question here is what the right competences and skills are and how to train them to get maximum transfer to practice.
The philosophy of the Rotterdam University of applied science is that teachers become involved in research as much as possible. On the one hand it is relevant for their own research skills but also for transferring these skills on their students. Also, it’s important to be informed of recent developments and to use these insights in the curricula. In this light, the first result to mention is the fact that within my research area four teacher-researchers are doing research, two of which are working towards promotion research.
Second, a, nationwide, minor in ‘Human Factor of ship systems’ has started two years ago in which students are educated in different Human Factor aspects in relation to their area of work. Furthermore, the are familiarized with human factor research which they apply to a (joint) research assignment. On a regular basis I gives guest lessons and presentations and write and review articles.
Currently, I’m a member of the Maritime Scientific Advisory Board for the International Conference on Human Factors in Transportation.