The great success of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in performing near-real time tactical, reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance and other various missions has…
The great success of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in performing near-real time tactical, reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance and other various missions has attracted broad attention from military and civilian communities. A critical contribution to the increase and extension of UAV applications, resides in the separation of pilot and vehicle allowing the operator to avoid dangerous and harmful situations. However, this apparent benefit has the potential to lead to problems when the role of humans in remotely operating “unmanned” vehicles is not considered. Although, UAVs do not carry humans onboard, they do require human control and maintenance. To control UAVs, skilled and coordinated work of operators on the ground is required.
The Cognitive Engineering Research Institute's First Annual Human Factors of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) Workshop, held on May 24–25, 2004 in Chandler Arizona, and Second Annual Human Factors of UAVs Workshop, held on May 25–26, 2005 in Mesa Arizona, brought to light many human factors issues regarding the technology and operation of UAVs. An integral part of the event was the involvement of military UAV operators from the U.S. Air Force (USAF), U.S. Navy, and U.S. Army. The involvement of UAV operators in the workshops was valuable in linking developers and human factors researchers in the improvement of UAV systems and operations – a practice that is too often implemented only after a system is deployed and the problems are found. The experience of operators serves as a “user's account” of the issues and problems concerning the operation of UAVs. The fact that operators have had first hand experience in operating UAVs provides a unique perspective to the problem of identifying the most pressing human factors issues. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the perspectives of two UAV operators that helped to set the tone for the entire First Annual Human Factors of UAVs Workshop.