Assessing the risks of steering system faults in underwater vehicles is a human-machine-environment (HME) systematic safety field that studies faults in the steering system itself, the driver’s human reliability (HR) and various environmental conditions. This paper proposed a fault risk assessment method for an underwater vehicle steering system based on virtual prototyping and Monte Carlo simulation. A virtual steering system prototype was established and validated to rectify a lack of historic fault data. Fault injection and simulation were conducted to acquire fault simulation data. A Monte Carlo simulation was adopted that integrated randomness due to the human operator and environment. Randomness and uncertainty of the human, machine and environment were integrated in the method to obtain a probabilistic risk indicator. To verify the proposed method, a case of stuck rudder fault (SRF) risk assessment was studied. This method may provide a novel solution for fault risk assessment of a vehicle or other general HME system.
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