Technological advances in the maritime sector have been considerable over many years. However the impacts of new technologies on human operators have been largely ignored. In contrast, in other industries - such as aerospace, military systems, nuclear energy supply or manufacturing - human factors related assessment of new technologies and operational concepts has been increasingly important. The five main categories of new technologies that need to be considered are: ship design, cargo, navigation support, communication and management support, and machinery.
THALASSES aimed to assess the socio-economic impacts of new technological concepts in maritime transport on the human element on board.
The main objectives have been:
- to identify trends in the development of new technologies in maritime transport with a focus on their impact on the human element;
- to identify the areas where socio-economic impacts of new technologies can be expected;
- to analyse changes in the crew's role as a result of the introduction of new technologies, and to develop scenarios for their future implementation;
- to investigate the use of technology aimed at reducing workload in ships;
- to apply appropriate assessment methods for the improvement of ship operations through advanced human-machine interfaces.
- found that the greatest impacts of innovations stem from navigation, communication and management support technologies;
- identified human-centred system design - building on experience from other industries - as a positive factor for job satisfaction of seafarers;
- developed and validated a framework assessment tool comprising preference analysis, multi-criteria analysis and the social impact table;
- found that technological innovations have considerable impact on the cost structure of shipping;
- found that new technologies meant to enhance safety and working conditions are much more readily accepted by crews than those aimed at meeting demand and improving cost effectiveness;
- developed a computer-based training tool targeting the adaption of crews to ECDIS tactical bridge displays;
- investigated the benefits of information technology for shipping registers, namely by proposing an internet-based vessel register communication manager tool; and
- recommended that technological innovations related to maritime education and training (MET) need to be seen in the context of the STCW framework.
From the findings of THALASSES it became clear that the impact of new technologies on human operators is highly context-specific, which needs to be considered in further research. Integrated concepts and their application will have considerable effects on MET schemes - however, the perception of the impacts of specific new technologies differs widely between maritime students and experienced ship officers.