UAV Operator mental workload: A neurophysiological comparison of mental workload and vigilance

Dale Richards, Kurtulus Izzetogolu, Graham Shelton-Rayner

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Human Factors can offer insights into the nature of human performance across many different domains. The steady increase of unmanned systems presents not only a unique challenge in terms of defining the nature of human-system interaction, but also the demand for providing decision support systems to assist the human operate multiple of these systems, or indeed operate beyond line of visual sight. The nature of cognitive performance can involve a high degree of complexity and in many instances result in disagreement over what it is that is actually being measured. The main cognitive processes that tend to be discussed in terms of operating UAVs tends to focus on mental workload and situation awareness. However, other constructs, such as vigilance, may be considered as important when we examine the task of commanding a UAV – more so when a single operator is supervising multiple UAVs. This paper presents the findings of a study whereby participants were asked to perform tasks involving the control of a UAV. Neurophysiological assessment was carried out by application of functional near infra-red spectroscopy, and results are discussed in relation to how this technique can provide insight into higher cognitive functions related to UAV operator state.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
EventAIAA Aviation 2017: Innovation or Disruption—Which Comes First? - Denver, United States
Duration: 5 Jun 20179 Jun 2017


ConferenceAIAA Aviation 2017
Abbreviated titleAviation 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • UAV
  • mental workload
  • neurophysiology
  • vigilance
  • Human Factors


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