Simulation assessment of synthetic vision concepts for UAV operations

Gloria L. Calhoun, Mark H. Draper, Heath A. Ruff, Jeremy T. Nelson, Austen T. Lefebvre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Air Force Research Laboratory's Human Effectiveness Directorate supports research addressing human factors associated with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operator control stations. One research thrust explores the value of combining synthetic vision data with live camera video presented on a UAV control station display. Information is constructed from databases (e.g., terrain, etc.), as well as numerous information updates via networked communication with other sources. This information is overlaid conformal, in real time, onto the dynamic camera video image display presented to operators. Synthetic vision overlay technology is expected to improve operator situation awareness by highlighting elements of interest within the video image. Secondly, it can assist the operator in maintaining situation awareness of an environment if the video datalink is temporarily degraded. Synthetic vision overlays can also serve to facilitate intuitive communications of spatial information between geographically separated users. This paper discusses results from a high-fidelity UAV simulation evaluation of synthetic symbology overlaid on a (simulated) live camera display. Specifically, the effects of different telemetry data update rates for synthetic visual data were examined for a representative sensor operator task. Participants controlled the zoom and orientation of the camera to find and designate targets. The results from both performance and subjective data demonstrated the potential benefit of an overlay of synthetic symbology for improving situation awareness, reducing workload, and decreasing time required to designate points of interest. Implications of symbology update rate are discussed, as well as other human factors issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnhanced and Synthetic Vision 2006
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventEnhanced and Synthetic Vision 2006 - Kissimmee, FL, United States
Duration: Apr 17 2006Apr 18 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherEnhanced and Synthetic Vision 2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityKissimmee, FL


  • Conformal overlay
  • Situation awareness
  • Synthetic vision
  • UAV
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle
  • Update rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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