Effects of Tactile Alerts on Concurrent Performance of the Gunner's and Robotic Operator's Tasks in a Simulated Mounted Environment

Report No. ARL-TR-4227
Authors: Jessie Y.C. Chen and Peter I. Terrence
Date/Pages: August 2007; 40 pages
Abstract: In this study, we simulated a generic mounted environment and conducted an experiment to examine the performance and workload of the combined position of gunner and robotics operator. More specifically, we compared the performance and workload of the operator when his/her gunnery tasks were assisted by the aided target recognition (ATR) capabilities (delivered through tactile cueing or a combination of tactile and visual cueing) versus when the gunnery task was unassisted. While performing gunnery tasks, participants also had to control a semi-autonomous unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) or tele-operate a UGV. Participants also performed a tertiary communication task concurrently. Results showed that participants gunnery task performance improved significantly when it was assisted by ATR. The performance of those participants with higher spatial ability exceeded that of participants with lower spatial ability. It was also found that significantly fewer neutral targets (which were not cued) in the gunnery environment were detected (which implies less visual attention being devoted to the gunnery station) when participants concurrently tele-operated a robotic asset or when the gunnery task was assisted by ATR. Participants robotics (tele-operation) task improved significantly when the ATR was available to assist them with their gunnery task. It was also found that the performance gap between those participants with higher and lower spatial ability appeared to be narrower when the ATR was available. A similar pattern was also observed for the perceived attentional control factor. Participants communication task performance also improved significantly when the gunnery task was assisted by ATR. Finally, participants perceived workload was significantly influenced by the type of robotics tasks and whether the gunnery task was assisted by ATR. Participants perceived workload was significantly higher when they tele-operated a robotic asset and when their gunnery task was unassisted. In a post-experimental survey, 65% of the participants indicated that they relied predominantly on the tactile cues when tactile and visual displays were available; only 15% said they relied primarily on the visual cues. Those who preferred visual cuing tended to have lower spatial ability, and their gunnery and robotics task performance tended to be inferior.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: August 1, 2007