Evaluation of tactile situation awareness system as an aid for improving aircraft control during periods of impaired vision
Brown, James S.
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This thesis describes the use of a prototype Tactile Situational Awareness System (TSAS) as an approach to aid pilot performance following simulated laser blindness modeled during a virtual approach in an SH-60 helicopter. Situational awareness and spatial awareness remain critical factors for successful control of manned aircraft. Helicopters and fixed winged aircraft pilots react to spatial orientation challenges during take-off, and landing phases of flight. U.S. and NATO aircraft pilot surveys examined the human machine interaction and revealed degraded vision as an important human factor contributing to mishaps or near mishaps. Vision was identified as an information chokepoint limiting command and control of the aircraft. Fortunately, vision can be augmented with an available technology called "haptics" during restricted or limited human vision. Therefore, an experiment using X-Plane output for haptics-generated input from a torso-worn TSAS was developed. Participants received haptic cues during runway approaches after experiencing simulated loss of vision. Participant performance after simulated laser blinding with and without the TSAS compared time advantage and navigation accuracy. Simulator performance data indicated pilots using TSAS following simulated laser blindness responded to haptic cues, had more time to prevent the aircraft from obtaining an unsafe pitch or roll condition, and could position the aircraft closer to the landing zone.
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