Foreseeing the Potential of Virtual Reality in Nuclear Power Plant Field Operator Training
Authors: Hanna Koskinen, Tuisku-Tuuli Salonen, Jari Laarni, Marja Liinasuo, Satu Pakarinen, Kristian Lukander, Tomi Passi
Abstract: In the 21st century, advanced technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) solutions have found their way to a variety of industrial applications and settings. The nuclear domain does not make an exception, and thus there has been an increasing interest to investigate how these technologies could be of use in different operative activities in nuclear field. Radiation visualization provides one good example of the use of VR that may facilitate planning of maintenance activities and thus enable to minimize the personnel’s time spent in contaminated spaces. One potential application area for VR in the nuclear domain is operator training. Nowadays the operator training is organized most often as classroom and simulator training. New advanced technologies may enable to enrich the conventional training facilities so that, for example, more hands-on training of teamwork and collaboration between the control room and the field operators becomes possible.In this paper, we concentrate on the training of field operators and especially, how VR-based solutions could facilitate and advance this process. We have conducted an interview study about the training of field operators in two Finnish nuclear power plants. Altogether 12 interviews were carried out with personnel responsible of field operations and the training of field operators. The interview study aimed to improve understanding on how the field operator training is currently arranged, and what expectations there are for the development of field operators’ training programme. Based on the results of the interview study, a summary is made on how the field operator training is organized in the two Finnish nuclear power plants and what are the benefits and limitations of the current training practices. We also report how the field operators foresee the potential of VR technologies in their training. Furthermore, suggestions are provided on concrete VR applications that may benefit the training and work of field operators. Finally, we will present some practical design implications for developing such training systems.
Keywords: Field operator training, virtual reality, human factors
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