Reducing human error in ship navigation

October 12, 2020 – Many investigations, including the annual Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) Safety & Shipping Review, have identified human error as the main reason for incidents in global shipping. Human errors often relate to false situation assessment caused by poor or inconsistent presentation of data or confusing operation.

Accordingly, intuitive and consistent user interfaces and operation concepts can improve safety at sea. This is why Raytheon Anschütz, a business of Raytheon Technologies, concentrated on the adoption of human-centered design when developing new navigational software. “In the past, user interfaces of bridge systems were often defined by software engineers only, but missed the experience from users,” said Björn Schröder, responsible product manager at Raytheon Anschütz. “Our goal was to make our new software helpful and intuitive to use for navigators.”

Raytheon Anschütz’s new bridge navigation software — which includes radar and an electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) — features clear, structured displays with separated, customizable areas for indication and operation control. Intuitive control elements such as pins and handles and drag-and-drop or touch functions simplify the handling. “We’ve launched an agile development process incorporating the expertise of experienced navigators and specialized user interface designers. With continuous user workshops and design reviews we wanted to learn more about the most frequent and important daily tasks and use cases,” Schröder said.

The team has analyzed and prioritized more than 400 tasks and use cases for ECDIS and radar, from route planning to route monitoring, collision avoidance and all the necessary documentation. After almost two years of modeling and prototyping, the software development team implemented all identified tasks and use cases.

“The feedback from our customers valued an intuitiveness of use throughout the different tasks as well as supportive functions which actually provide assistance to the operator,” Schröder said. “And one customer put it straight: Involving users was the best idea ever!” Radar NX and ECDIS NX with the user-defined interfaces have been available since the beginning of 2020, from version E04.04 onward. New features will add the software with each major release.

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