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Autonomous mobility systems developed for unmanned ground vehicles may have additional benefits by enhancing system performance and reducing demands on operators for manned ground vehicles. This effort examines the potential impact of introducing autonomous mobility to control manned vehicles while operators performed secure mobility. Eleven Soldiers participated in an experimental task requiring concurrent control of a manned and an unmanned Stryker performing a road march, scanning of the local environment for targets, and planning of a reconnaissance route for a third simulated asset. The control of the manned vehicle was varied between autonomous and manual control and several speed and accuracy variables were examined for each task. Subjective measures of operator workload, stress, and motion sickness were also examined. The results support the potential benefits of incorporating autonomous mobility into manned platforms. In speed-matched conditions, autonomous mobility was associated with decreased manned vehicle mission time, faster operator reaction times to targets, greater instances of multitasking while under motion, and lower subjective operator workload measures than with manual driving. In conclusion, autonomous mobility technologies have the potential to free up resources from the vehicle operator and allow for better operator performance on tasks other than vehicle control.
Date of Publication: June 2008