Serious gaming technologies support human factors investigations of advanced interfaces for semi-autonomous vehicles

Robert Stone, Eugene Chng

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingBook Chapterpeer-review


Since the advent of highly capable uninhabited vehicles, notably in the application domains of offshore oil/gas exploration and defence, attention has increasingly focused on the development of technologies necessary to endow remote systems with complete autonomy. However, this approach has not met with widespread
success. Operational experiences frequently point to the fact that the human operator still has a significant role to play in the future of uninhabited vehicles, as part of a control continuum that ranges from direct teleoperation during critical mission phases and recovery modes of control to the high-level supervision of single or multiple platforms. However, few (if any) usable guidelines and/or affordable experimental test beds exist to help ensure that human factors issues are adopted early in the design lifecycle of uninhabited systems. To help redress this situation, research under way within the University of Birmingham and the UK’s Human Factors Integration Defence Technology Centre has resulted in the development of an experimental Synthetic
Environments technology demonstrator test bed, codenamed Alchemy. The test bed is designed to support the generation of new human factors knowledge relating (initially) to operator display and control requirements for uninhabited vehicles, such as iSTAR UAVs (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition &
Reconnaissance Uninhabited Air Vehicles), deployed in support of homeland security operations or urban combat. The test bed has evolved from an early PC demonstrator, exploiting the Microsoft DirectX Application Programming Interface and .NET framework, to one that now exploits the power, quality and
support of software tools emerging from the serious gaming community. This evolution is also helping to support the exploitation of serious games technologies in other defence applications, from close-range weapons training to military surgery.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVirtual Media for Military Applications
Subtitle of host publicationMeeting Proceedings RTO-MP-HFM-136, Paper 8
Place of PublicationBrussels
PublisherNATO Research and Technology Organization
Pages8-1 - 8-2
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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