Emulating Multi-Party Communications In Simulator Environments
Orchid® Communications Exchange (Orchid® CE) is L3 MAPPS’ software platform to simulate communications systems for applications within control room training simulators. The platform is fully configurable to simulate any communication system and runs on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware.
In an actual ship or power plant, operators have access to diverse communication systems such as telephones, public-address systems and touch-capable communication panels to be able to communicate with other areas of the ship or plant.
In a simulated control room, operators must likewise have access to the same communication systems. However, since the remote location being called is not always simulated, instructors in the instructor booth must “role play” the remote site operators. When this occurs, the operator using the communication systems must have the impression that he/she is dealing with an actual remote system operator. This includes dialing the correct number of the remote operator and hearing the appropriate background noises when the communication occurs. Orchid® CE provides the backbone to provide these capabilities.
For most projects, Orchid® CE will require some customization to replicate the exact look and feel of the target communications systems. For example, L3 MAPPS is able to modify an actual plant phone to add simulation capabilities such as processing the dial keys, volume control, off/on-hook, etc. Orchid® CE is based on and compatible with the other Orchid® tools.
While customization may be required to interface to plant-specific equipment, Orchid® CE does this entirely with COTS hardware: Windows PCs for call management and sound recording/playing, off-the-shelf amplifiers and adapters for earpiece and microphone interfacing, and L3 MAPPS’ compact I/O solution for pushbutton, keypad, and visual indicators interfacing.
- Allows control room operators to make voice calls to outside the control room locations. The calls are automatically forwarded to the instructor.
- Allows the instructor to see which area (telephone number) is being called, and to answer as if the call was being answered from that location.
- The system automatically superimposes background noise if the simulation conditions are in a state which would cause the called location to be noisy. For example, if the operator calls the turbine room and the turbine is running, the operator will hear a turbine rumble during the call.
- Supports various real-life communication modes: one-to-one calls, conference calls, broadcasting, transfers of calls, hold, etc.
- Supports public address and broadcast speakers for general notifications.
- Supports instructor-initiated failures such as dropped lines and communication failures.
- Low-cost emulation of communications systems.
- Use of COTS hardware and software to emulate target communications systems for reduced maintenance costs.
- Fully integrated with simulation environment.