The HABITAT project involved the training of experts, technicians and engineers whose skills and know-how included maritime transport electronics and telecommunications, maintenance, design and development of components and complex systems for monitoring and controlling vessel traffic - particularly within the last nautical mile - and the implementation of actions to support decision making. Thirty staff units have been trained during the project lifetime.
The project focused on the research, development of prototypes, testing and validation of an integrated port system in order to control and support maritime navigation in last mile operations. HABITAT was aimed at
- providing accurate real-time information about the last mile marine traffic situation, by means of both plots and advanced graphics applicable to all types of ships and boats, including even those not equipped with sensors/systems (e.g. AIS or GNSS) operating in all weather situations and 24-hour/day;
- providing all ships and boats concerned in last mile marine operations of systems able to support real-time navigation and improve precision, speed and safety of docking manoeuvring;
- better interoperate with public administration systems (both existing and/or under development);
- providing an advanced simulation system for the training of pilots and all the technicians involved in port traffic control.
HABITAT provided the following outcomes:
- replication of the dashboard ship console with the main controlling equipment (rudder, engine power lever, compass, etc.) and tools for displaying the information needed to navigate, in 3D maps and in real-time. Through them the pilot may act on the controls (using suitable input devices such as joysticks, touch screen panels, etc.) according to the information provided by the dynamics simulation of the vessel;
- allowed vessel traffic controllers to use a 3D simulation with 360° view of the entire port, in order to control all approaching phases of the ship/vessel to the quay and informing in real time of any risk of collision;
- enabled interoperability with any ship in distress through an on-board virtual controller and showing to external and remote operators the same view of the pilot and allow the access to the information and navigation equipment.
HABITAT achieved a concrete improvement of the capabilities offered by current systems for ports and coastal traffic control, such as Vessel Traffic Service (VTS), as it provides for both on-board and port-side operators a situational awareness in all weather conditions and visibility (e.g. fog, darkness) with specific details, such as contour perimeter, orientation, movement on display with actual speed, etc.
The situational awareness is associated to other operational instruments, such as support for navigation (collision avoidance) in high traffic areas and support for docking manoeuvring. The potential benefits are applicable to all ports dealing with traffic congestion, reducing the time of entry and exit of ships, rationalize operating space, reducing pollution in port areas and surrounding urban settlements, and also improving the overall safety.