Agent Based Risk Management & Operational Modelling of Ports

R. D. Colwill∗ and S. L. Yeung†
BMT Asia Pacific, 18/F Chun Wo Commercial Centre, 23-29 Wing Wo Street, Central, Hong Kong

The continuous development of world-wide shipping, both in terms of volume and individual ship size places increasing pressure on navigation safety in port approaches and on landside infrastructure. Within this complex environment sits the pilots, operators, and drivers who are so crucial to the safe and efficient operation of port systems. The ability to identify and predict the distribution of risk and identify operational efficiency is a key component of a project’s development. Increasing mechanical reliability ensures that human factors are now the most significant elements of risk within these systems, yet are frequently the most poorly replicated. This paper describes the analysis of port systems through an ‘‘agent based’’ simulation approach that allows the key issues of human decision making in response to the environment and perceived threats to be better represented, and provides a platform for more accurate planning. The paper reviews the key architecture of such a model and illustrates the value of 3D presentation and the capability of agent simulations to represent complex environments.

1. Introduction The world’s ports are the cornerstones to the development of the world’s trading economy, and have in recent years been under increasing pressure as more and larger vessels ply the oceans. Port stakeholders (harbour masters, terminal operators and shipping companies), all have a strategic interest in ensuring that navigational safety and port/ maritime security is enhanced to maintain adequate port capacity and safety in the face of rising volumes and ship size. Most frequently port authorities must address a version of the following question: ‘‘What is the present capacity of the port’s fairways and terrestrial infrastructure and how can we predict and manage the impacts from future growth’’. Focussing initially on the marine side of the port it is possible to identify the following factors that must be addressed within any assessment designed to
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VTS advisory) Operational Capability (Mariners familiarity and tolerance to vessel proximity) These variables are not static.massivesoftware. speed limits. Animators are able to develop characters with a sophisticated set of reactions to their environment. • Open script structure for constraint input and output data creation. To achieve this goal BMT have entered into a partnership with Massive Software (www. with the increasingly significant human factors element to map congestion and risk. speed. 2. The same processing architecture that has been so successfully applied for film and video is equally applicable for marine applications. • ‘‘Fuzzy logic’’ programming to mimic mariner response to navigation. nature and capabilities of the vessels and the response of mariners to different control stimuli. wind & wave) Control Regime (TSS. When scaled up into the hundreds – or hundreds of thousands – the interaction within groups of agents (such as people. The key features of Massive of interest for marine congestion and safety assessment are: • Open and scaleable logic structure for the creation of autonomous agent ‘‘brains’’. orcs or penguins!) that emerges from these individuals is highly realistic.Agent Based Risk Management & Operational Modelling of Ports 31 accurately address the impact of future facilities and marine traffic: • • • • • Geometry (draft. type of vessels & manoeuvrability) Metocean Environment (current. Agent Based Simulation In reviewing the requirements outlined above it is clear that an extremely flexible architecture is required to integrate the ships reaction to the physical environment in which they navigate and the ‘‘human factors’’ issues of control and reaction to the marine traffic environment. and key drivers for change include: • • • • Global & Regional Growth Port Development New Port Facilities Changes in Vessel Size To accurately address capacity and safety a model must to able to model the physical geography of the water space. BMT have in recent years been researching just this issue in a bid to develop the next generation of traffic models that meld together marine traffic issues. .com) in order to focus their Academy Award winning autonomous agent animation software towards marine engineering applications. ‘‘Massive’’ is the premier 3D animation system for generating crowd-related visual effects for film and television. the volume. width & airdraft) of navigable channels Traffic Mix (size. where each ‘‘agent’’ can be programmed to develop reactive behaviour for the most complex actions.

When combined. Yeung • Current and wind fields and lane guidance options.32 R. develop weighted outputs. Vessels within the model each transmit and receive data on their location. A key value of developing decisions making within a fuzzy logic environment is that complex situations can create situations impossible to predict and account for in a deterministic manner. In Massive each brain stores a collection of rule-sets for decision making and controlling the response of the agent. Marine Applications Key marine focussed behaviours have been developed within the Massive architecture building on the core logic of BMT’s established Dynamic Marine Traffic simulation software. The decision options include slowing down his own vessel and/or steering to starboard to avoid collision. Figure 1 shows a simplified brain element of a ship agent for collision avoidance due to the starboard crossing of a target ship. Colwill and S. Once the manoeuvring action has been completed and the rule sets no longer identify that an action is required the vessel regains its course. An agent executes a rule-set when criteria associated with the rule are satisfied. these nodes evaluate the external environment. L. nodes can be dragged and dropped within a window and rule-sets constructed by connecting nodes in the aforementioned order. • Mid Field Grounding Avoidance. 3. there is a variation in different people’s response to stimuli caused by perception of external factors. defuzz and output nodes. fuzzy. the distance. • Far Field Track Following.1 Principal features include: • Near Field Collision Avoidance. These can be implemented in agent based simulations by adding variation to membership . A heirachy has been established to identify vessel types so that the correct application of the COLREG2 may be made. • 3D graphic ability and sophisticated element and terrain modelling. The building blocks of Massive brains include input. This action will then be taken. Massive includes a simple and self-explanatory Graphical User Interface for constructing rule-sets in a brain. in many cases within deterministic software implementations ‘‘freezing’’ of the programme would occur. In real-life. logical. degree of response and so on. A series of fuzzy rule sets will result in the most ‘‘true’’ action being identified (as defined by the membership functions) that represents the agent’s most pressing need. DYMTIRI. An autonomous agent ‘‘brain’’ is assigned to each vessel navigating within the Study Area to allow it to make decisions according to a predefined rule set. and ultimately decide on a course of action for the agent. orientation and relative bearing between a ship agent and the target ship agent can be automatically recognised. It represents the simple case when a mariner becomes aware of an approaching ship and decides if his own ship is going to collide with this vessel. D.

Fig. 1. functions. a characteristic of human decision making. Brain function for starboard avoiding action. It also provides a smooth transition from one action to another one.Agent Based Risk Management & Operational Modelling of Ports 33 Fig. the concepts for ‘‘near’’ and ‘‘far’’ etc. Of course the key to any model is its accuracy and in order to develop and calibrate the model it is necessary to identify. 2. ahead and starboard where the ‘‘trueness’’ of a vessel’s position relative to the observer is input into the brain. in quantitative terms. Figure 2 shows the membership function for defining port. as perceived by the mariners. It is feasible to develop extremely complex behaviour by the bundling of rule sets. An example of an early development of the mariner brain is illustrated in Fig. 3. Membership functions for direction perception. To achieve this validation . and the Massive architecture allows the independent testing of key rule sets and their later consolidation.

D. The output flexibility available in Massive allows the user to develop specific reports. has been conducted against a number of digital radar data sets of port activity providing quantitative support to the logical reasoning that underpins the mariner’s response behaviour. Constricted marine traffic environment. Figure 4 illustrates an application of the model where barge movements within a constrained river channel are assessed to review the risk associated with the addition of more berths. 3. Fig. Basic COLREGS implementation. In this case the frequency of vessel conflicts and collision potential was output against berth utilisation. Colwill and S. 4.34 R. Yeung Fig. L. .

D. 5. 4. The ability to plan and optimise developments is essential. Autonomous agent models provide the ability to represent complex marine and terrestrial systems and give port stakeholders the tools to enhance the safe and efficient operation of port systems. and recognising that the logistics systems will have significant man-machine interfaces is critical for future success. within ports such problems exist at port gates and within the stacking yard. International Conference on Marine Simulation and Ship Manoeuvrability. (2003).. Terrestrial Applications While BMT’s focus has been on marine applications it is straightforward to apply the same techniques to any problem where agent (people or vehicle) interaction is a significant issue. Kanazawa. Dand I. Example of junction analysis. References 1. . Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs). Conclusion The continuing development of the world’s ports creates increasing capacity constraints on existing infrastructure.Agent Based Risk Management & Operational Modelling of Ports 35 Fig. Simulation of Traffic Flows using Dynamic Ship Modelling Proceedings. W. International Maritime Organisation (1972). 2. this particular example featured the assessment of the impact of large-scale roadworks. Figure 5 illustrates the model’s application to a complex junction. While many existing models readily address junction capacity. Japan. and the model illustrated the impact of the works on traffic flows and system capacity. 5. Colwill R. and of particular significance any knock-on impacts.

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