Autonomy Artificial Intelligence Robotics (AAIR)

Human Centered Design Crucial to Unmanned Systems Operator & Mission Success

by Brian MacDonald


The use and operation of unmanned systems are becoming more commonplace and as missions gain complexity, our warfighters are demanding increasing levels of system functionality. At the same time, decision making is becoming increasingly data driven and operators must process large amounts of data while also controlling unmanned assets. Factors impacting robotic/unmanned asset control include mission task complexity, line-of-sight/non-line-of-sight operations, simultaneous UxV control, and communication bandwidth availability. It is critical that any unmanned system requiring human interaction, is designed as a “human-in-theloop” system from the beginning to ensure that operator cognitive load is minimized and operator effectiveness is optimized. Best practice human factors engineering in the form of human machine interfaces and usercentered design for robotic/unmanned control systems integrated early in platform concept and design phases can significantly impact platform mission success and operator effectiveness with regard to intuitive controls and cognitive load.