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Aviat Space Environ Med. 1989 Feb;60(2):152-6.

The visually guided control of simulated altitude.

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  • 1NASA/Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035.


Simulated "flights" over three different ground textures were used to examine people's ability to extract optical information useful for active regulation of altitude. The textures were regularly spaced lines as follows: 1) orthogonal to the direction of flight (latitude texture); 2) parallel to the direction of flight (meridian texture); and 3) both parallel and orthogonal (square texture). Visual constant velocity forward flight simulations were displayed on a CRT screen, and subjects asked to maintain one of three initial altitudes using a rate control stick. This task was made difficult by the presence of lateral (irrelevant) and vertical (relevant) "wind gusts." The attitude never varied as winds, forward speed, and vertical rate control resulted in only translational movements. Adjusted root mean square errors (ARMSE) showed altitude regulation was more difficult at higher altitudes and when flying over meridian textures. Refined analysis of a single subject's data showed that this was due both to poorer regulation of the vertical wind disturbance and to a tendency to confuse the lateral wind disturbance for a vertical disturbance.

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