Investigating the Usefulness of Soldier Aids for Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles, Part 2

Report No. ARL-TR-7240
Authors: A William Evans III; Susan G Hill; Brian Wood; Regina Pomranky
Date/Pages: March 2015; 48 pages
Abstract: In the past, robot operation has been a high-cognitive-workload task requiring human operators to dedicate a large amount of their cognitive resources to maintaining awareness about a robots state and functioning. This technical report describes research of operator-knowledge-management aids, in the form of visual display-screen overlays, used to help increase performance and reduce perceived workload. The aids were overlays displaying what an autonomous robot perceived in the environment and the subsequent course of action planned by the robot. Eight active-duty, US Army Soldiers completed 16 scenario missions using an operator interface called the Warfighter Machine Interface. The simulated missions included various display configurations, with combinations with and without 3 operator aids: Travel Planner, Obstacle Map, and Rerouting Alert. During the simulations, participants managed the autonomously navigating robot, taking teleoperation control when needed, while completing a reconnaissance to detect simulated improvised explosive devices. Results of this study showed that the use of operator aids resulted in less use of manual teleoperation control, suggesting that operators were better able to predict robot actions, understand the projected robot paths, and have less need to manually intervene in autonomous robot behavior. The use of operator aids did not, however, contribute to improved target detection.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: March 1, 2015