A Comparison of Soldier Performance in a Moving Command Vehicle Under Manned, Teleoperated, and Semi-Autonomous Robotic Mine Detector System Control Modes

Report No. ARL-TR-4609
Authors: David R. Scribner; David Dahn
Date/Pages: September 2008; 52 pages
Abstract: Soldiers will be required to perform missions using remote technology with increasing frequency as the U.S. Army transforms. Soldiers will be asked to carry out missions that will require them to be at greater standoff distance at the cost of degraded sensory information and resulting limited system performance. Historically, teleoperated systems have had capabilities that are twice the error rate and time required to perform a mission. This is due to the limited field of view, depth perception, vestibular cues, and other immersion reducing characteristics of remote operation. The need to provide operational improvements to the historically degraded teleoperation mode is being recognized by the U.S. Army in many areas, including route clearing and mine detection systems. The Robotic Mine Detection System (RMDS) has provided a system for mine detection and lane marking that allows several modes of operation that are purported to reduce soldier workload and error. These modes include manned operation, teleoperation, teleoperation with cruise control, and semi-autonomous path following. The path following mode is a GPS following mode that allows the Soldier to alter the lateral vehicle course in discrete control inputs known as biasing or bumping. The study was designed to examine these modes of operation comparing the subjective workload, stress, and motion sickness as well as course completion time, average speed, and driving error in terms of lateral drift. Soldiers were asked to operate the RMDS over a secondary course while maintaining proper speed and road edge following under all four conditions. Data for vehicle position and speed were collected at a rate of 5 Hz while subjective ratings of workload, stress, and motion sickness were collected at the mid-and end-points of the course runs. Participants were seven U.S. Army Soldiers and one Department of Defense civilian recruited from Ft. Belvoir, MD. Analysis of variance revealed significant effects for the treatment of control mode on lateral drift distances, course completion times, and stress measures.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2008