STUDENTS from Solent University are set to trial their gaming software skills on a Red Funnel ferry.

To increase ship safety, shorten docking times and reduce fuel consumption, students from the university's School of Media Arts and Technology department will test a newly-developed user interface on the Red Jet 7 Ferry.

They will join forces with Southampton's maritime energy efficiency firm Azurtane for the project, and are aiming to help vessel commanders safely visualise their docking movements when they do not have a direct view of the dockside.

Azurtane, which is funding the project, will work with two students in the third year of the Computer Games Software Development course to undertake the initial visual design, before coding the software that will position the trial vessel of the boat.

The user interface is due to be delivered for user trials on the Red Funnel high-speed ferry in March 2020.

Managing director of Azurtane, Don Gregory, said: “Our aim is to develop an intuitive, highly visual interface that presents positional information produced by our HPK [high precision kinematics] in the most quickly assimilated way in order to make coming alongside easier for navigators on the bridge of a vessel.

“The students are taking the real time data from the HPK technology to produce an aerial 2D visualisation that acts as a navigation guide, displaying heading, speed and rate of rotation of the vessel in relation to the dockside. This will allow the navigator to dock the vessel with a 4cm accuracy, even without direct visual contact of the dockside."

Dave Cobb, Course Leader for the university department, said: “Students at Solent University, learning the techniques, languages and mathematics of game software may not be aware how transferable their skills can be.

"Gamers must be captured by and drawn into a game. That is also true in navigation. The closer an interface is to the user’s mind’s eye, the more likely it will be embraced."