Mixed Traffic Scenarios - Challenges for VTS Operators to ensure safe and efficient Vessel Traffic Flow in the Future

Lisa Loloma Froholdt*, Michael Baldauf, Momoko Kitado*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) are to monitor and to organize safe and efficient vessel traffic flow in coastal areas and also to contribute to the protection of the marine environment. VTSs are operated from VTS centres, usually established ashore, and equipped with modern and high-sophisticated surveillance systems to support the operators working for 24 hours, 7 days a week. Numerous displays are installed to provide an overview of the present traffic and environmental situation in the area. Traffic data are collected via Radar and AIS mainly. Weather, wind, current, bathymetric and tidal information are provided through sensors and usually integrated in the traffic displays of the monitoring workstations. Further assistance systems partly connected to databases are available in order to process all those data into a traffic image. Often, advanced software features are provided allowing the operators to look ahead and estimate future developments of a current situation. Decision support systems with alert functions are implemented to help operators to detect situations with, e.g., risk of collision or risk of grounding but also anchored ships drifting or other kind of situations, which require interventions by the operators. Intervening in a developing dangerous situation is done by communication, usually by voice communication via VHF.

The introduction of high sophisticated onboard automation systems and the preparation of the introduction of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) will also face the VTSs worldwide. The composition of maritime traffic was always a mixture of ships equipped according to the requirements with either conventional, modern or high sophisticated partly- or fully automated systems. The future of maritime traffic will continue with similar mixed traffic scenarios at least for a longer time period if not for ever. VTS has to integrate and to absorb the handling of new kind of traffic situations involving unmanned vessel fully autonomously or remote controlled by a shore control centre (SCC) and therefore has to develop appropriate operational procedures to ensure the safe and efficient traffic flow.
This paper will present a simulation-based approach to research future scenarios with mixed maritime traffic from the perspective of experienced VTS operators. While the present research is very much focussed on technical aspects of automation and digitalization and the feasibility and reliability of MASS, the focus of this research is laid on aspects of operational integration and the handling of mixed traffic situations in the coastal areas. The systematic development and implementation of mixed traffic scenarios in simulated real world environment will be presented. The ongoing conduction of pilot studies using series of experimental simulation trials, entry questionnaires and follow-up focus group discussions after simulation runs will be introduced and the outcomes and first results in terms of the identification of administrative and organizational needs and related future training requirements and for technical support systems will be presented and discussed. An outlook will provide a strategy for the further research work to be done.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAHFE22
Publication date14. Feb 2022
Article number1065
Publication statusPublished - 14. Feb 2022
Event13th International COnference on Applied Human Factors nd Ergonomics (AHFE 2022) and the Affiliated Conferendes - New York, United States
Duration: 24. Jul 202228. Jul 2022


Conference13th International COnference on Applied Human Factors nd Ergonomics (AHFE 2022) and the Affiliated Conferendes
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York


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