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Tactile Cueing Effects on Performance in Simulated Aerial Combat with High Acceleration

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van Erp JBF, Eriksson L, Levin B, Carlander O, Veltman JA, Vos WK. Tactile cueing effects on performance in simulated aerial combat with high acceleration. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:1128–34.

Introduction: Recent evidence indicates that vibrotactile displays can potentially reduce the risk of sensory and cognitive overload. Before these displays can be introduced in super agile aircraft, it must be ascertained that vibratory stimuli can be sensed and interpreted by pilots subjected to high G loads. Methods: Each of 9 pilots intercepted 32 targets in the Swedish Dynamic Flight Simulator. Targets were indicated on simulated standard Gripen visual displays. In addition, in half of the trials target direction was also displayed on a 60-element tactile torso display. Performance measures and subjective ratings were recorded. Results: Each pilot pulled G peaks above +8 Gz. With tactile cueing present, mean reaction time was reduced from 1458 ms (SE = 54) to 1245 ms (SE = 88). Mean total chase time for targets that popped up behind the pilot's aircraft was reduced from 13 s (SE = 0.45) to 12 s (SE = 0.41). Pilots rated the tactile display favorably over the visual displays at target pop-up on the easiness of detecting a threat presence and on the clarity of initial position of the threats. Discussion: This study is the first to show that tactile display information is perceivable and useful in hypergravity (up to +9 Gz). The results show that the tactile display can capture attention at threat pop-up and improve threat awareness for threats in the back, even in the presence of high-end visual displays. It is expected that the added value of tactile displays may further increase after formal training and in situations of unexpected target pop-up.
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Keywords: cockpit displays; human performance; multi-sensory; tactile display; tactile perception

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: From TNO Human Factors, Soesterberg, The Netherlands (J. B. F. van Erp, J. A. Veltman, W. K. Vos), and FOI, the Swedish Defence Research Agency, Linköping, Sweden (L. Eriksson, B. Levin, O. Carlander).

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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