Single operator control of multiple uninhabited air vehicles situational awareness requirement
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1. While the technology to automate these vehicles continues to progress at a rapid pace, less attention has been paid to the Human Factors aspect. Theoretically, technology exists to enable single operator control of multiple UAVs; however, the human operator must interact with the vehicle, especially if the vehicle will be used to apply deadly force. What information does the operator readily need to make these critical decisions? How will the human operators be able maintain the situational awareness of all vehicles under their control and make informed decisions as to their employment in dynamic situations? One possible aid to maintaining Situational Awareness is an overall Situational Awareness display that gives an overview of the vehicle locations, both geographically and in relation to one another. The question to be answered is whether this display adds useful information to the operator without further straining the operator's limited attention resources. Experiment participants were tasked to provide supervisory control of four simulated UAVs in a simulated environment and make tasking decisions for the UAVs based on static ground targets that required investigation. Accuracy of situational awareness information was measured with and without the additional Situation Awareness display to determine the net benefit of adding an additional display to the operator's station. Results indicate that the Situational Awareness diplsay helped the UAV pilot make more accurate decisions regarding the UAV in closest proximity to a target requiring reinvestigation. Contrary to expectations, the SA display did not increase the speed of decision making for re-assigning the UAVs to a target of interest. The results support the conclusion that operators of multiple UAVs should have some form of Situational Awareness display to aid in determining the UAVS location geopgraphically and in relation to other UAVs and search objects.
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