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Alternative Control Technologies: Human Factors Issues

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With the increasing intelligence of computer systems, it is becoming more desirable to have an operator communicate with machines rather than simply operate them. In combat aircraft, this need to communicate is made quite crucial due to high temporal pressure and workload during critical phases of the flight ingress, engagement, deployment of self-defense. The HOTAS concept, with manual controls fitted on the stick and throttle, has been widely used in modern fighters such as F16, F18, EFA and Rafale. This concept allows pilots to input real time commands to the aircraft system. However, it increases the complexity of the pilot task due to inflation of real time controls, with some controls being multifunction. It is therefore desirable, in the framework of ecological interfaces, to introduce alternative input channels in order to reduce the complexity of manual control in the HOTAS concept and allow more direct and natural access to the aircraft systems. Control and display technologies are the critical enablers for these advanced interfaces. There are a variety of novel alternative control technologies that when integrated usefully with critical mission tasks can make natural use of the innate potential of human sensory and motor systems. Careful design and integration of candidate control technologies will result in human-machine interfaces which are natural, easier to learn, easier to use, and less prone to error. Significant progress is being made on using signals from the brain, muscles, voice, lip, head position, eye position and gestures for the control of computers and other devices. Judicious application of alternative control technologies has the potential to increase the bandwidth of operator-system interaction, improve the effectiveness of military systems, and realize cost savings. Alternative controls can reduce workload and improve efficiency within the cockpit, directly supporting the warfighter.

Subject Categories:

  • Cybernetics
  • Human Factors Engineering and Man Machine Systems
  • Attack and Fighter Aircraft
  • Voice Communications

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