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USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

Participants on gCapatain have been hitting the points in that report for years, but the USN isn't going to believe sailors on the 99.999% of other ships. Whatever do they know about operating a ship? I recall a situation where a USN ship hit a freighter that was at anchor and they tried to blame that freighter for not getting out of the way. Sweet J. levels of entitlement on many USN bridges.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

Interestingly, I think the modern cruise ships have a similar, touch-screen layout, as probably do many other modern ships.

It seems to me that the issue isn't touch screens, per se, but, rather the (shocking) lack of design standards for one of the services that have standards for pretty much everything. Likewise, it would seem to me that going back to wheels and throttles where different ships different layouts and control positions and status displays would pose the same issue for sailors changing ship types.

After all, we run our PCs or laptops with keyboard, mouse, and/or touch screens perfectly well, specifically because controls and status displays are generally, but not perfectly uniform.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

I always thought touch screens were so large moths could operate the panels.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

I think this, like the 737 Max debacle, has more to do with implementation than it does the actual concept itself. That different ship classes use a different system is beyond my understanding. Also, as with any control system, no matter how simple it may seem, some people have lesser ability to grasp the basics than others. Since it's the military, there is a standard training protocol for everyone. I'm sure some had a good understanding while others had none whatsoever. There were several safeguards in place to prevent just this type of incident. Had somebody pushed the 'Big Red Button' or noticed that the throttles were uncoupled (which was clearly displayed in several locations) this would probably have been a non-incident. Also, as the report states, it's not a good idea to make this kind of configuration change during periods of high traffic. Had they made the switch sooner, even if it transpired the same way, the level of pandemonium and panic would have been reduced to the point that SOMEBODY probably would have figured out what was happening.

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

Quote (IRStuff)

It seems to me that the issue isn't touch screens, per se, but, rather the (shocking) lack of design standards for one of the services that have standards for pretty much everything.
Agreed!

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

Given the number of really bad user interfaces I've encountered for far less mission critical systems, I'm not surprised at all that the Navy had overly complex, hard to use, confusing and inconsistent systems. Auto manufactures have had a couple of decades now of constant refinement of touch screen HVAC & infotainment systems and many of them have migrated back to having real knobs dedicated to frequently used functions like volume control and temperature. I think the programmers frequently have zero experience actually using these systems and merely implement all the functions on the spec list in the way that's easiest to code with little thought given to how the users will interact with these systems. The NAV system in my '13 Corvette is so bad I frequently just stick my Garmin on the dash rather than have to deal with the factory system.

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The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

Sure, but the military has standards and specification even for potatoes, and they have standards for display lighting, lettering sizes, etc. Regardless of whether the contractors or ship types were different, the Navy should have imposed a interface requirement for GUIs and controls, given that the operators are typically only high-school graduates. And, one would think that there would have been simulators that operators could be trained on.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

The issue of user interface is a complex one. Perhaps the most important part is what your typical user is used to. For example take a car. It is possible to link both throttle and brake into one single pedal. When released, brake is full on. Half way down brake is fully released etc. Much simpler then two pedals, but would never work in the real world.

Many years ago there was a discussion whether software engineers needed to know how a device works or just program to a spec. Of course the issue being ignored by most was that almost all specs are incomplete. Without a complete spec, some details are left to the implementer, who may have little idea of how the system works or the people that will be using the system.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

Quote (djs)

The issue of user interface is a complex one.
Development should be a collaborative effort between engineers, manufacturers, end users and all points in between. It doesn't matter whether it's a ship helm control, car GPS or 737 MAX MCAS system. Maybe that's a little bit simplistic but I don't think so. We receive PC and cell phone updates so regularly we don't even think about it. I always thought it was curious that updates are never offered for your car, as I'm sure the manufacturers find bugs from time to time. It only seems to happen as a result of a recall.

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

Touch screens require looking at the screen to use (with any reasonable accuracy).

Steering a ship typically requires looking at something other than the wheel (or screen, in this case), like navigation radar, out the windows, etc.

Without good feedback through a sense other than vision it becomes extremely difficult to operate the device. When that device is a warship the results can be disastrous.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

(OP)
"...updates are never offered for your car..."

Famously, Tesla vehicles are regularly updated 'over the air' (via cell mobile data network).

During service, the Mercedes dealer often connects my car to his computer. I assume that they're updating software, as well the usual scanning for faults. There's a certain parameter that I'm quite sure that they've changed over the years.

I suspect that other brands also provide updates, silently.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

wiggle<-- That's me, enjoying ownership of zero connected vehicles.lol

"Schiefgehen wird, was schiefgehen kann" - das Murphygesetz

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

(OP)
Getting back to bridges on ships. They're big enough (floor space) to provide both options. Touch screens to control the automation, along with a set of motorized manual controls that can also be operated directly by the human hand. There's plenty of physical space to have the best of both approaches. And a big red button to kill the automation.

Sometimes the root cause of suboptimal designs is that the process of Requirement Management replaces actually thinking. Same as above, there can be both.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

"Steering a ship typically requires looking at something other than the wheel (or screen, in this case), like navigation radar, out the windows, etc."

Navigation radar is typical displayed ON A SCREEN, doh! I think with big ships, the lag is so long that looking out the window is not that useful, unlike with a car.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

Quote (thebard3)

I always thought it was curious that updates are never offered for your car, as I'm sure the manufacturers find bugs from time to time.
My '17 Corvette receives over-the-air updates via OnStar every few months (whether I want them or not, and I'm not an OnStar subscriber). I've considered ripping out the OnStar antennas.

The latest update has screwed up my rev limiter display. As the engine heats up, the rev limiter slowly backs off... but with the most recent update, the display randomly keeps the last few elements "lit", sometimes it disappears completely (expected behavior), etc.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

The entire conversation about touch screens smells like a smoke screen to mitigate and avoid full acknowledgement of serious command failures and collapse of shipboard culture.

RE: USN to ditch touch screen ship controls

Quote (charliealphabravo)

The entire conversation about touch screens smells like a smoke screen to mitigate and avoid full acknowledgement of serious command failures and collapse of shipboard culture.

It's worth reading the NTSB report. While the discussion in this forum dwells heavily on the touch-screen aspects, the report is very clear in its view that the primary cause "was a lack of effective operational oversight of the destroyer by the US Navy, which resulted in insufficient training and inadequate bridge operating procedures." The over-complicated nature of the system and lack of haptic feedback didn't make it into the Probable Cause determination at all.

Personally, I don't like pushbutton "take control" arrangements for propulsion and manoeuvring controls - accidents where people only find out too late that they haven't actually got control of CPP systems are far too common and if the majority of the team don't understand what is really going to happen when they press the Big Red Button, then it's just a matter of time before disaster strikes. I'm a strong believer in the merits of having a single great big manual rotary station selector switch, so you only need to look in one place to know who has control.

Quote (Eufalconimorph)

Steering a ship typically requires looking at something other than the wheel (or screen, in this case), like navigation radar, out the windows, etc.

On a naval ship, it really doesn't. When in confined waters like this, the helmsman only needs to watch what the Steering Gear Alarms and Indications and the Rudder Angle Indicator are doing. Other people (lots of them) are there to look out the windows and at the radars, navaids, pelorus, etc and tell the officer with the con what they can see, then that officer will then give a verbal conning order (like "Port Fifteen"). The Helmsman's job is to acknowledge "Port Fifteen", turn the wheel, watch the Rudder Angle Indicator until the gear stops moving (this could take 28+ seconds), then report "Fifteen to Port". There's a dozen or so other people there to do the other bits of the job (and generally to get in one others' way, until they've learnt to work as a team).

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