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Publication Date

Fall 2011

Degree Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Factors/Ergonomics


Kevin Jordan


human factors, situation awareness, UAV

Subject Areas

Industrial engineering


The purpose of this study was to investigate operator's situation awareness while controlling multiple unmanned aerial vehicles. A human operator may have to control more than one vehicle at a time because of an increase in demand of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the civilian airspace. Although this might seem plausible, human operators tasked with operating more than one UAV face cognitive overloads resulting in failure to sustain the demanding situation awareness standards of the Federal Aviation Authority. In this study, participants were tasked with monitoring both one and two UAVs by one of three management styles representing three levels of automation. Results indicate that performance (as measured by number of errors committed by the participant) deteriorated while monitoring two UAVs. Four performance and preference ratings were analyzed from post-run and post-simulation questionnaires. The single UAV condition was significantly more efficient by workload and performance measures and led to higher situation awareness than the condition with two UAVs. There was no significant difference between the management styles used to monitor the UAVs.