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Ergonomics. 2013;56(5):739-51. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2013.771218. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

The influence of camouflage, obstruction, familiarity and spatial ability on target identification from an unmanned ground vehicle.

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Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA.


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of environmental and cognitive factors on the identification of targets from an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). This was accomplished by manipulating obstruction, camouflage and familiarity of objects in the environment, while also measuring spatial ability. The effects of these variables on target identification were studied by measuring performance of participants that observed pre-recorded video from a 1:35 scaled military operations in urban terrain facility. Analyses indicated that a combination of camouflage and obstruction caused the most detrimental effects on performance, and that there were differences in the recognition of familiar and unfamiliar targets. Further analysis indicated that these detrimental effects could only be overcome with a combination of target familiarity and spatial ability. The findings highlight the degree to which environmental factors hinder performance and the need for a multidimensional approach for improving performance under these conditions. Areas in need of future research are also discussed.


Cognitive theory is applied to the problem of perception from UGVs. Results from an experimental study indicate that a combination of camouflage and obstruction caused the most detrimental effects on performance, with differences in the recognition of both familiar and unfamiliar targets. Familiarity and spatial ability interacted to predict the performance.

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