While the Spatial Disorientation (SD) has long been recognized as an important causal factor in aviation incidents and accidents, it is only beginning to be recognized as a factor in Uninhabited Aerial Systems (UASs). Self, Ercoline, Olson and Tvaryanas (2006) predicted SD to be most likely for a manually controlled UAV when operated from a mobile platform. As a first step towards better understanding the effects of control platform motion on manual UAV control Olson, DeLauer and Fale (2006) had 10 rated Air Force pilots fly a simulated UAV task (MS Flight Simulator) from a motion capable control platform (aircraft simulator). Participants performed two basic flight tasks – a vertical task (climb/descent) and a horizontal (turning task). The control platform motion was varied to provide either congruent, neutral, or conflicting motion cues. Congruent and incongruent motion cures were defined as motion in the same axis and either same/different direction as the primary task (i.e., simulator turned left/right and task was a constant left hand turn). Neutral motion was defined as motion in a different axis of motion relative to the primary task (i.e., simulator motion was climb/descent and task was a constant bank turn). There were three levels of visual and vestibular control platform motion cues (no motion/visual cues, motion with no outside visual display, motion with outside visual). The results indicate that there was little effect of control platform motion on roll axis performance, i.e., bank and heading error. However, pitch axis deviations (altitude and vertical velocity) showed an effect of both control platform motion and motion type. Presence of both visual and motion cues resulted in greater pitch deviations than motion only or baseline (no motion/no visual cue) conditions and the presence of motion in the off-axis of motion resulted in the greatest error. These results suggest that platform motion may interfere with an operator’s ability to manually control a UAV from a moving platform (a possible precursor to SD). The current study replicates the simulator study using an aircraft (C-172) as the control platform. This will allow for a more complete examination of platform motion cues since simulators cannot adequately simulate sustained motion. This study also adds a landing task to examine glide path and azimuth error. Data collection is not yet complete, however initial results indicate that, as in the previous simulator study, control platform motion resulted in greatest interference in the vertical axis and the presence of both motion and visual cues resulted in the greatest control interference. These results have implications for planned UAV operations from both fighter and transport aircraft.
Antonov, C. S.,
Domogala, C. C.,
& Olson, L. A.
(2007). Operating an Unmanned Aerial System from a Moving Platform. 2007 International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 13-18.