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Researchers have found that the combination of data from unmanned vehicles and drones on one video screen helps with orientation and identification

"The lessons learned all over the world as part of the war on terror, led to the development of new methods of operation that are greatly assisted by remotely controlled machines," notes Dr. Tal Oron-Gilad, who headed the research

Tal Oron-Gilad (photographer: Danny Machlis, Ben-Gurion University)
Tal Oron-Gilad (photographer: Danny Machlis, Ben-Gurion University)

A new study carried out at Ben-Gurion University states that combining this information may improve mission performance - without burdening the soldier
A combination of visuals (video) obtained from unmanned vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on one screen can help in the orientation and identification of infantry soldiers. This is according to a team of researchers from the human engineering program at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, headed by Dr. Tal Oron-Gilad. The research findings were recently published in the Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making

"The lessons learned all over the world as part of the war on terror, led to the development of new methods of operation that are greatly assisted by remotely controlled machines," notes Dr. Tal Oron-Gilad. Oron-Gilad and her team, Roni Ofir-Arbel, Dr. Avinoam Borovsky and Dr. Israel Parmet, examined information from a separate UAV compared to an integrated video configuration in which Huzi (video) is presented from two ground and aerial sources, using advanced imaging methods. The experiment was attended by 30 engineering students at Behn-Gurion University who had previously served in combat infantry units for periods of at least 3 years and in active reserve service the year before the experiment. The subjects were not trained in operating manned unmanned vehicles (UAVs).

Operational activity of infantry troops in urban environments is often supported by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) contracts. The challenge facing infantry soldiers, especially in urban warfare, is to understand the conflict environment and the area of ​​operation. The contract is usually used to increase the situational awareness of the soldiers by providing an additional angle of view of the conflict area from the air. The current study examined to what extent the addition of another contractual focus such as ground vehicle contracts would improve the soldier's situational awareness. Two types of display were examined: UAV contracts only versus a combined display in which UAV and ground vehicle contracts were combined.

Thirty reserve soldiers with no previous experience in using unmanned vehicles participated in the experiment. Detection and orientation percentages, personal evaluations and eye scan patterns (indicating the division of attention) were measured for two operational scenarios. In the first scenario - the UAV flies in a predetermined sortie pattern, without focusing on any specific targets. In this scenario, the assumption was that the one who would focus on the specific goals would be the CBM. The second scenario was a densely populated area where the UAV is limited due to many hiding places. This scenario assumed that the KRBM would fill the "holes" in the cover here as well. The analysis of the results showed that in the first scenario, the detection and orientation percentages were better in the integrated display. In the second scenario, the detection percentages were better and there was no change in orientation. The eye scan patterns confirmed that both types of contract, aerial and ground, were indeed used for the purpose of carrying out the mission. The integrated display led to an advantage in detection percentages, a reduction in workload and a reduction in the number of false alarms, without burdening the subjects. Therefore, it can be concluded that land container contracts provide infantry soldiers with additional support in the mission beyond air contracts. At the same time, its contribution decreases in a very compact built-up area where the ground vehicle's viewing angle is limited.

The researchers found that in some cases, the introduction of the KRBM contributed to both the improvement of the identification task and orientation. These results indicate that, contrary to what is accepted in the literature, that orientation tasks are achieved in a better way through the use of UAV contracts only, and that the CBM does not contribute to improving orientation, the CBM has added value in orientation as well. These results are in line with Oron-Gilad's previous study from 2011.

However, with the improvement in feeding video images from unmanned vehicles (UAVs), another question arises: what happens if the soldier receives both feeds and a GPS map? Does the additional point of view help in fulfilling the required tasks or does the soldier fall into an overload of information, and will ignore images coming from the drone in favor of those from the UAV, or vice versa, or does the double feed damage all the incoming information? Similarly, given the low survivability of the CBM, does it provide any additional useful information at all?

Based on eye movement, the research team conducted an analysis of the subjects' attention distribution patterns between the different pieces of information, an analysis of detection accuracy and false alarm, and a subjective workload analysis. Also, the subjects were asked to fill out a subjective task-related questionnaire to reach their conclusions.

The study was supported by the US Army Research Laboratory through Micro Analysis and Design CTA grant DAAD19-01C0065.

A section of the visualization that was the subject of the study

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