Workload, Stress, and Situation Awareness of Soldiers Who are Controlling Unmanned Vehicles in Future Urban Operations

Report No. ARL-TR-4071
Authors: Bruce S. Sterling; Chuck H. Perala
Date/Pages: April 2007; 35 pages
Abstract: This research describes the workload, stress, and situation awareness of operators of robotic reconnaissance platforms who are conducting future full spectrum operations in an urban setting. The participants controlled unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned ground vehicles, and unmanned ground sensors in a virtual reality simulation as part of a combined arms battalion using Future Combat Systems. Results suggested that robotic controllers supporting infantry units had higher workloads and stress than controllers supporting non-line-of-sight cannon units, mounted combat system units, or reconnaissance units, perhaps because infantry units are more vulnerable and require closer surveillance. Also, individuals controlling all three sensor types had higher workloads and stress than those controlling other combinations of assets. Human factors recommendations for the interface included an ability to automatically track a target, switch to teleoperation to make slight adjustments, an auto-scan function on the sensor, and the ability for the platform to automatically plot a route to a grid location. Some potential limitations of this study include the fact that the workload may have been affected by other factors such as experience or training; the robotic platforms may have been operated simultaneously or sequentially; and the interface used in this study may or may not mirror the (to be determined) future interfaces.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: April 1, 2007