Dr Sashidharan Komandur

The broad area of my research is Human factors. My research spans the following areas: Maritime human factors, human computer interaction, anthropometry, physical ergonomics and applied statistics.

Long term research goals:

My main work revolves around understanding human factor issues that exist in the ship bridge environment of modern ships. In this I am more specifically concerned about resolving human factor issues in the context of advanced maritime operations such as anchor handling, platform supply vessel operation and remotely operated sub-sea activities. From a cognitive and physical human factor standpoint it means addressing issues of interface design and workspace layout in the ship bridge design. From a social human factor standpoint it is about facilitating communication and addressing ways to measure and develop competency and skills of maritime personnel.  My long term research goals are to create knowledge that will ultimately lead to the design of next generation ship bridges that are modern, safe and efficient.


Short & Medium term research goals:

To understand human factor issues in an integrated maritime environment it is important to analyze it from a systems perspective. The methods to create new knowledge in this area would be by using a combination of laboratory and field studies. More specifically, I will rely upon the maritime simulators at our disposal at the Ålesund University College and its industry collaborators. My strategy will also be to learn from the in-depth work that has already been done in the aviation and nuclear sector which use sophisticated control rooms for their complex operations. There is also much to learn from the field of human computer interaction (HCI) with regards to interface design on the ship bridge. As an allied goal we will also be looking to develop metrics that will help us gauge the increase in competency and skills of maritime personnel due to simulator training. It is also our cherished goal to convert these simulators into full-fledged usability labs. This requires us to develop simulators that have flexible interfaces and adjustable workspace layout, so that any new bridge design concept can be incorporated and tested for usability without necessarily constructing an entirely new prototype.


Significance to the Maritime industry:

The evolution of the modern ship bridges is more due to legacy systems that were in place. In other words, tools and apparatus that appeared later on the bridge found place depending on the space available, rather than a comprehensive human factors review of the ship bridge. This has direct bearing on the task flow and hence the quality of the operation. The cost of substandard levels of operation or in the worst case scenario (accidents) are too steep to ignore. Thus a thorough human factors review is not just desirable but most necessary to avoid those steep costs. The challenges are many, right from laying down the rules of usability testing for ship bridges to incorporating it in the design process. The important thing though is its inclusion in the design process will lead to high operational quality. Addressing human factor issues in the early stages of design will not only reduce cost but greatly increase safety and efficiency.