Chromatic Strobe Flash Disruption of Pursuit Tracking Performance
Final rept. Feb-Apr 1980
LETTERMAN ARMY INST OF RESEARCH PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO CA
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Ten men used a viscous-damped mount optical tracking system during a study of the effects of strobe flashes and ambient lighting on pursuit tracking performance. The volunteers tracked a 0.5 mrad target moving to the left or right for 15 s at a constant angular velocity of 5.0 mrads. A single 170 micron 0.053 sr, 538 nm strobe flash was presented at random at the rate of one flash for each five trials. The flashes produced significant increases in the standard deviations of the horizontal and vertical aiming errors under both ambient light conditions. The average maximum aiming error was 0.6 mrad during bright ambient light trials. Approximately 2 s were required to return to normal control error rates. Flashes presented during the low ambient lighting conditions produced off-scale errors 2 mrad. Recovery times averaged 6 s for a 1 mrad target and 3 s for a 4 mrad target. This study used large retinal area strobe flashes that were an order of magnitude below permissible safe exposure levels and much lower than levels produced by military laser devices. In spite of this limitation, single 538 nm flashes produced significant disruptions of pursuit tracking performance even though the behavior of the target was predictable. The magnitude of these effects will be much greater for more intense single or multiple flashes and for targets which are engaged in unpredictable maneuvers.
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