A Certification Framework for Virtual Reality and Metaverse Training Scenarios in the Maritime and Shipping industry.
Authors: Evangelos Markopoulos, Aksel David Nordholm, Stavroula Iliadi, Panagiotis Markopoulos, John Faraclas, Mika Luimula
Abstract: The maritime and shipping industry tremendously impact on the society and the economy across the centuries. Today shipping is, environmentally and economically, the most efficient way to transport merchandise, serving nearly 90% of world trade. Safety at sea has always been a major issue for all the parties involved in shipping from different perspectives, reasons, and interests. Shipping and maritime training that can assure this safety is a key requirement for every ship to sail and for every seafarer, of any level and rank, to get on-bard and perform any operations. However, the cost of such training can be unbearable for many shipping companies especially in emerging markets that rely much on the readiness and effectiveness of their local seafarers. The introduction of virtual reality (VR) in maritime and shipping training became a solution for all those who seek affordable and reliable professional training, but the markets indicated skepticism on the quality and reliability of such training. Furthermore, there has been significant hesitation on the validity of VR ad Metaverse shipping training and its compliance with the international maritime training certification processes. The covid-19 pandemic and the continuous lockdowns that froze the world, helped VR training to be more accepted by all industries, including the shipping and maritime industry, and to be reconsidered as an accepted training alternative. Within the first year of the pandemic, the VR training industry has exploded in terms of applications, many of which indicate a significant degree of intelligence and state-of-the-art technologies, in hardware, software and communications between the trainee, the system, and the virtual environment. The MarSIOT (Maritime Safety, for Immersive Oceans Technology) case is examined throughout this paper along with other technologies. On the other hand and despite the justified need for virtual training and the readiness of the VR industry to respond to this need a major issue that still has not been resolved, but remains under research investigation and process formulation, is the certification of virtual training scenarios, as qualified and valid professional skills, by credible certification bodies. This paper presents an analysis of the maritime and shipping VR and Metaverse training certification demand, the requirements that need to be fulfilled for VR training scenarios to be certified, and the overall certification process that can be followed. The research is based on primary and secondary research with an extensive academic literature review, a survey with 80 maritime participants, five interviews with industry experts in maritime VR training and certification, case studies on the maturity and the readiness on the VR training in maritime and shipping, and analysis on the maritime virtual training requirements from leading certification organizations in the shipping professional training. The research results indicate an initial VR training certification process that can be used as a guide for VR training organizations on their efforts to certify their professional training applications and technologies. The paper indicates research limitations and areas of further research that can be explored for the standardization of the proposed VR certification methodology and its acceptance by the international maritime and shipping industry.
Keywords: Shipping, Maritime, Virtual Reality, Metaverse, Training, Certification, Standards, Covid-19.
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