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Behav Res Methods. 2011 Sep;43(3):771-80. doi: 10.3758/s13428-011-0085-9.

Use of the RoboFlag synthetic task environment to investigate workload and stress responses in UAV operation.

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Department of Psychology, University of Cincinnati, 5140H Edwards Hall 1, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA.


Use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is an increasingly important element of military missions. However, controlling UAVs may impose high stress and workload on the operator. This study evaluated the use of the RoboFlag simulated environment as a means for profiling multiple dimensions of stress and workload response to a task requiring control of multiple vehicles (robots). It tested the effects of two workload manipulations, environmental uncertainty (i.e., UAV's visual view area) and maneuverability, in 64 participants. The findings confirmed that the task produced substantial workload and elevated distress. Dissociations between the stress and performance effects of the manipulations confirmed the utility of a multivariate approach to assessment. Contrary to expectations, distress and some aspects of workload were highest in the low-uncertainty condition, suggesting that overload of information may be an issue for UAV interface designers. The strengths and limitations of RoboFlag as a methodology for investigating stress and workload responses are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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