If you are commandeering a huge frigate worth billions of pounds and want to get on-hands training of steering it well, it makes sense not to let you ‘practice’ your skills by letting you use the frigate in real-time. To avoid precisely this, the Royal Navy has now installed a photo-realistic bridge simulator at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
The bridge simulator projects images on the windscreens so as to simulate real-world environments. These simulations are accurate, down to the last detail. For instance, you can even see the images of objects reflected in the water, objects which are entirely projected and do not exist in real.
By projecting these images, the simulator creates an apt environment to test the skills of new officers. The officers are tested for their docking skills and for their ability to steer through difficult scenarios.
According to Lieutenant Sam Stephens who is the head of navigation at Dartmouth, “You can run through any scenario on here that you wouldn’t want to try for real – it’s a safe environment – as well as everyday maneuvers, such as replenishing at sea, and navigating in fog or poor weather conditions.”
The simulator comprises of some very bulky hardware. While on this side of the screen, you can see the projections of very real images and scenarios, on the other side sit a bulk of digital displays powered up by high-end gaming computers and other hardware. The images are originally captured at real harbours and then projected on these screens.
The images are so real like that often new students are provided the right kind of pressure under which they need to be tested. Moreover, the simulator is also capable of creating different kind of weather conditions, ranging from hurricanes to heavy fogs.
Lieutenant Stephens further says, “I sat at the back of the room and watched a group of senior officers on a command course swaying around. Some people have even asked if it’s on hydraulics. It’s not. It simply tricks the mind.”
Source: Ministry Of Defence
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