Boating safety simulator unveiled at Power Squadrons meeting

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The United States Power Squadrons and Virtual Driver Interactive launched a new joint project at the Power Squadrons’ 2014 annual meeting earlier this month in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Boating Safety Virtual Trainer is an interactive simulation-based boating safety program designed specifically for the Power Squadrons. The boat simulator allows people to practice exercises such as docking and maneuvering a slalom course.

The simulator features three computer screens with a rotating field of vision, a steering wheel and a Mercury Marine throttle, and it reacts to variable settings for trim, current and wind.

The realistic boating experience is the result of sophisticated water physics software developed by Virtual Driver Interactive and funded through a Coast Guard grant, according to a Power Squadrons statement. Other participating partner organizations include the National Safe Boating Council, the BoatUS Foundation, Brunswick Marine, Mercury Marine and Boston Whaler.

The use of a simulator does not replace live on-water training, but is meant to provide a close approximation that can be used as an on-water training tool commensurate to existing and future on-the-water Power Squadrons programs requiring the same level of competency.

Simulation allows students to navigate on-the-water scenarios, where they contemplate and make decisions using critical thinking.

“By utilizing this realistic simulation, in conjunction with the USPS Practical On The Water safety course, students will gain improved retention and understanding of boating safety,” Bob Davis, CEO of Virtual Driver Interactive, said in a statement. “Boating is fun. Training should be, as well.”

The training unit is the first of its kind in the nation. Five units have been funded and will be available for use by the Power Squadrons later in 2014.

The Power Squadrons and Virtual Driver Interactive invite safety professionals to experience the simulator at the International Boating & Water Safety Summit in Nashville, Tenn., April 14-17.

“Boating safety is the priority of the United States Power Squadrons,” said Lisa Herndon, project manager of the Boating Safety Virtual Trainer for USPS. “Offering this hands-on simulator will be a fun experience among new and experienced boaters alike.”

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