Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operators must remotely manipulate payload sensors, while maintaining situational awareness from a displaced ground control station (GCS). Potential use of helmet-mounted displays (HMD) in piloting UAVs and controlling payload sensors has been previously investigated (de Vries & Padmos, 1997; Draper, Ruff, & LaFleur, 2001; Morphew, Shively, & Casey, 2004). Stated benefits of HMD use for targeting tasks included immersion in the search environment and possible reduction of tactical footprint. In the current study, it was hypothesized that the pairing of 3-D audio alerts with the HMD would result in more robust performance differences between HMD and CRT conditions. For this experiment, eight subjects conducted routine area searches, periodically responding to audio threat alerts. Audio alerts were given in mono, stereo, and 3-D spatialized presentation. Targeting performance differences were assessed in a baseline CRT and joystick configuration versus HMD for all audio conditions. Findings revealed more precise target acquisition performance when payload operators used the CRT/joystick configuration than the HMD. Furthermore, time on target was reduced when visual searches were aided with stereo and 3-D directional audio cues. Lastly, participants missed the fewest targets and reported lowest workload levels, when receiving 3-D audio cues. Present findings replicated reported sickness associated with HMD use. A synergistic effect of 3-D audio and HMD showed a mitigation of operator workload previously reported with the HMD. Further consideration of 3-D audio alerting for UAV operators should be investigated for benefits in target acquisition, reduced operator workload, and increased situation awareness.
Dowell, S. R.,
& Shively, R. J.
(2005). Synergy of Virtual Visual and Auditory Displays for UAV Ground Control Stations. 2005 International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 203-209.