Investigating the Usefulness of Operator Aids for Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles Performing Reconnaissance Tasks

Report No. ARL-TR-6651
Authors: William Evans III
Date/Pages: September 2013; 44 pages
Abstract: The research described here investigated the ability of operator knowledge management aids to help increase operator performance and reduce perceived workload, providing the potential for increased mission effectiveness. Specifically, the operator aids provided gave information about what an autonomous robotic asset perceived in the environment and the robotic assets intended actions based on that information. Twenty subjects completed a total of seven experimental missions, using a simulated operator control station called the Warfighter Machine Interface (WMI). The missions included various configurations using three different operator aids. The operator aids included a long-term planner, a short-term planner, and an obstacle map. During the simulated missions, participants managed the autonomous robotic asset while completing a reconnaissance task. In addition, participants were expected to identify when the robotic asset had deviated from its intended course and determine why it had done so. Results of this study showed that the use of operator aids had little effect on operator performance but significantly reduced both cognitive and temporal workload. This reduction in workload, especially with the information presented in the overlays, could let operators take a proactive approach to supervision, rather than simply responding to errors and trouble.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2013