The Effect of Audio and Tactile Cues on Soldier Decision Making and Navigation in Complex Simulation Scenarios

Report No. ARL-TR-4413
Authors: Douglas S. Savick, Linda R. Elliott, Orest Zubal, and Christopher Stachowiak
Date/Pages: April 2008; 45 pages
Abstract: Human factors studies of an array of military operation roles have shown significant overloading of the visual channel during the execution of many Soldier tasks, such as navigation and target detection (Mitchell, Samms, Glumm, Krausman, Brelsford, & Garrett, 2004). The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of tactile and three-dimensional (3-D) auditory cues to reduce overall workload and response time during high-visual workload target acquisition and robot navigation tasks. Soldiers performed target acquisition and navigation tasks in a computer-based simulation of Army target acquisition and navigation of robotic resources. Within this simulation (Operation Flashpoint), the participant functioned as the vehicles commander/gunner. At pre-determined intervals, semi-autonomous robots called for help and directions. The call for help occurred three different ways: a) visual indication, b) 3-D audio alert, and c) tactile alert. Results indicate that the mean response time in the tactile condition was significantly lower than in the audio or visual conditions. There was no significant difference between audio and visual conditions. Ratings of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Task Load Index workload were lowest for tactile and highest for the 3-D audio condition.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: April 1, 2008