Roy Ruddle: Uninhabited Air Vehicles


Project title: Human factors aspects of remote workstations

Investigators: Dr Andrew Howes, Prof Dylan Jones, Dr Roy Ruddle, and Justin Savage

Funding: DERA (1999-2000)

Note: this research took place while Roy Ruddle was employed at Cardiff University

Small, lightweight uninhabited air vehicles (UAVs) provide a cost-efficient mechanism for surveillance and searching tasks. Applications include National Park and wildlife management, crowd control, and coastguard operations, as well as other applications that are in the military domain. The use of a tele-operation system to control an air vehicle and its sensors introduces many human factors problems that are not present when people are on board an aircraft. For example, the available bandwidth restricts the resolution, frame rate and field of view of sensor information which can be transmitted to the UAV's control station. Slow frame rates have a detrimental effect on people's ability to detect objects, especially in dynamic scenes. The use of a narrow field of view increases the time that is required to search a particular area. When the orientation of sensors is fixed in relation to the UAV, controllers are unable to look around in a flexible manner. This inhibits searching and may effect the accuracy with which they can build up an overall mental picture of an environment's contents. Dynamic camera control increases the complexity of the interface, but allows more flexible searching and object tracking.

Project's publications

Ruddle, R. A., Savage, J. C., & Jones, D. M. (1999). Effects of cameras configurations on target observation that is performed from an uninhabited air vehicle. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 43rd Annual Meeting (HFES'99), 81-85.

White, J. L., Ruddle, R. A., Howes, A., Snowden, R. J., Savage, J. C., & Jones, D. M. (2001). Eyes in the sky: Human factors and uninhabited air vehicles. Journal of Defence Science, 6, 88-94.