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Environmental Factors Affecting Situation Awareness in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Prasanna Velagapudi Sean Owens Paul Scerri and Katia Sycara Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh PA 15213 USA Michael Lewis University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA 15213 USA As mini UAVs become more capable and reliable it is important to start looking at the factors differentiating them from other classes of unmanned vehicles One such factor is the physical proximity of operators to the vehicle during deployment Operators of these UAVs are often within sight of their vehicle and share many environmental cues such as visual landmarks However operating in the field also entails additional environmental stresses such as less optimal use of computer equipment variations in weather and the physical demands of the terrain In this paper a pilot study is conducted to determine if any of these factors significantly impact situation awareness by comparing operator performance in a visual identification task in a live field test with operators performing an identical task in a lab environment Metric results suggest that performance is similar across the two conditions but qualitative responses from participants suggest that the underlying strategies employed differ in the two conditions I Introduction n recent years there has been a surge in the application of unmanned aerial systems to a wide variety Ifixed wing of problems One particular class of vehicle that has been gaining favor in the community has been the mini UAV Small low cost and portable they are ideal for military and civilian applications ranging from short range surveillance1 to environmental surveys2 3 to wilderness search and rescue 4 One interesting aspect of these vehicles is that their deployment model differs greatly from their larger longer range counterparts Specifically many scenarios for mini UAV deployment involve short range missions in which the UAV is deployed near within a few miles of the operator In these cases



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