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23-02-2021

Utility of Functional Transparency and Usability in UAV Supervisory Control Interface Design

Journal:
International Journal of Social Robotics
Authors:
Wenjuan Zhang, David Feltner, David Kaber, James Shirley
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Abstract

A basic notion of transparency in automated systems design is the need to support user tracking and understanding of system states. Many usability principles for complex systems design implicitly target the concept of transparency. In this study, we made comparison of a “baseline” control interface mimicking an existing available UAV ground control station with an “enhanced” interface designed with improved functional transparency and usability, and a “degraded” interface which removed important design features. Each participant was extensively trained in the use of one of the interfaces and all simulated UAV control tasks. Each participant was tested in four trials of a typical military concept of UAV operation with different mission maps and vehicle speeds. Results revealed participants using the enhanced interface to produce significantly faster task completion times and greater accuracy across all UAV control tasks. The enhanced features were also found to promote operator understanding of the system and mitigate workload. By defining and setting automation transparency as an overarching design objective and identifying specific transparency and usability issues within existing GCS designs, we weress able to design and prototype an enhanced interface that more effectively supported human-automation interaction. Automation transparency as a high-level design objective may be useful for expert designers; whereas, usability design guidelines, as “building blocks” to transparency, may be a useful tool for new system designers.

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