Accession Number:



Use of Vibrotactile Stimulation for Sustaining Attention of UAV Operators

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

Corporate Author:

University of Waterloo Waterloo, Ontario Canada

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Military organizations, including the Canadian Forces CF, are using Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles UAVs to play an increasing role in providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance ISR. To help improve ISR capability, one area of research that requires investigation is the development of methods that could help UAV crews sustain acceptable performance levels in supervisory control tasks. These tasks take place over prolonged periods resulting in a vigilance decrement which is the inability of an operator to sustain attention. To help sustain the attention of UAV operators, this research attempts to develop countermeasures to combat the vigilance decrement of UAV operators. Typical techniques to counteract the vigilance decrement include the provision of a rest break and direct supervision. These existing methods, however, can be intrusive or costly in a UAV control paradigm. To address this problem, this study was designed to investigate the efficacy of vibrotactile signals for sustaining performance in auditory and visual monitoring tasks. In this first phase, 98 participants weretested individually, half of whom were randomly assigned to perform an auditory monitoring task, and the other half performed a visual monitoring task. Participants were exposed to one off our treatments no treatment or a control condition, a rest break countermeasure condition, a low occurrence vibrotactile countermeasure condition or a high-occurrence vibrotactile countermeasure condition. A vigilance decrement was found in all the conditions of the study, but no significant evidence for the effectiveness of vibrotactile countermeasures was found. Performance in the auditory modality was greater than that of the visual modality in all conditions. The vigilance task was perceived as a high-stress and high-workload task, based on the results of the NASA TLX and DSSQ questionnaires.

Subject Categories:

  • Pilotless Aircraft

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