Lack of situational awareness in drilling operations has become an important factor in causing safety accidents or cause of non-productive time. Process safety is another critical aspect for such high risk operations and cannot be ignored. A review of testimony from offshore rigs worker suggests long working shifts and fatigue as one of the crucial issues impacting performance.

The study here presents results from experiments conducted in a Virtual Reality Drilling Simulator (VRDS) equipped with eye tracking technology. The eye tracking technology can be used to distinguish between less and more aware/alert participants which is most of the times related to fatigue or onsite distraction. The ocular activity can be used to obtain visual cues that can quantify the state of drilling operator while operating. These cues can help in generating some warning alarms to alert the driller. Therefore, the system can reduce not only accidents but can also save a tremendous amount of non-productive time by improving their efficiency. Since human eyes express the most direct reaction during less alert or distracted mental state, ocular activity data has been used as the basis for quantification of situation awareness by researchers. In recent years, eye tracking system has been developed in the form of static and dynamic devices. The camera installed in these devices capture different characteristics of the participants' ocular movement in real-time. These oculomotor data such as eye fixation count and duration and pupil size, has been implemented in several industries such as aviation and medical to assess the performance of participants in recent years.

In this paper, we use eye tracking techniques for investigation of alertness and awareness of participants while conducting different drilling operations on the simulator. Results obtained from this study indicate that the system can detect the distraction and alertness exhibited by humans. The results show the very promising application of this technology on the drilling rigs. The novelty in this work is the development of framework for implementation of real-time eye tracking technology in various drilling operations such as drilling rigs and Real Time Operation Centers (RTOCs).

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