טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
M.Sc Thesis
M.Sc StudentTrefler Shilo Iris
SubjectThe Integration of Hand Gestures into the User Interface of
UAV Flight Control Stations for Improvement of
Pilot Performance
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Ms. Noemi Bitterman
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Since WWII there has been wide use of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) that are controlled from a manned ground station, their place and necessity in today's warfare constantly on the increase as an inseparable component of modern day battle.  Gestures - an inherent component of human expression - by which people consciously and willingly transmit messages via movement of body parts, have seen widespread use since the advent of the cellular phone, notably the touch-screen "smartphone".    Hand gestures are considered intuitive, easy to learn, and exact in specific, pre-defined situations and applications.  This research and application domain has exploded technologically over the past few years, even in the more rigorous and classically conservative worlds of the military and security.

The integration of gesturing into advanced technological development is part of an increasingly popular policy aimed at easing the workload of pilots and improving their performance - performance that is inherently high-tension and stress producing, It is well known that human performance deteriorates under workload conditions that are either too high or too low, both of which likely result in an increase in errors.

Because this research study is applied rather than theoretical in nature, and utilizes professional pilots working at actual flight stations, the results of this study have potentially wide-ranging, long-term implications.

The hypotheses assert that the use of hand gestures will bring about an improvement in flight performance, a reduction of stress, and an increase in user satisfaction.


Three dimensions of performance were addressed:

1.      Objective dimension:  A new flight mission was developed, this mission simulated an actual or 'real' mission familiar to the pilots and comprised of activities measured by reaction time, tracking accuracy, number of errors and more.

2.      Subjective dimension:  The subjective dimensions were measured by the subjects' estimation of workload using the NASA-TLX questionnaire and the System Usability Scale (SUS).

3.      Physiological dimension:  Pulse rate - known to be a valid and objective measure of Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) activity.


By and large, the hypotheses of the study were supported.  A positive correlation was found between practice sessions with hand gestures and subject performance.  Correlations were found between subjective measures and objective measures of performance.  Significant differences were found in the performance in the number of activities accomplished as well as performance errors.  Finally, the analyses of the subjective measures in the study indicated that the use of the new gesture technology was both widely accepted and desirable in terms of additional evaluation and potential integration into existing interfaces.


Overall, the current study points to a number of significant advantages  - represented by both subjective and objective performance measures - to the integration of  gestures as a valuable user interface tool into existing UAV flight control operations for particular functions.  This was particularly true for expert system operators.  It is suggested that future research utilize larger experimental populations, include gender as an additional individual difference variable, and extend time on task, as well as explore the utility of additional UI technologies to enhance performance.