Human-Autonomy Interaction

IST scientists and engineers are actively working to better understand and develop mechanisms that support effective human-autonomy interaction by investigating both the unique demands and constraints reflected within specific operational situations and the affordances available from various AI techniques to support appropriate collaborative dialog with human teammates.
The ever increasing complexity and uncertainty of current and future operations threatens to outpace the ability of skilled operators to effectively manage and adapt to escalating situations. Advances in the development of autonomous technologies suggests that autonomy enabled capabilities could significantly enhance performance in such future operational environments. While autonomy might evoke the notion of an absence of operator interaction, effective coordination with human operators has proven essential to the integration of autonomous systems.

IST is working several Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT) efforts for AFRL & CCDC (formerly AMRDEC). We are developing autonomous tools to enable a single operator to control multiple heterogeneous unmanned vehicles. IST Human Systems Engineers have built an intuitive Human Machine Interface (HMI) for effective human-autonomy teaming. IST validated autonomous tools in simulated air assault and base defense missions with Army pilots, other Army operators, and Air Force Unmanned Vehicle operators. IST’s autonomy experts and software engineers have implemented HMI designs, autonomy algorithms, and decision aiding solutions to support the operator in these tasks. The results improved performance and rated better compared to a current state-of-the-art system.



The use of unmanned systems in military operations has skyrocketed over the past decade. The limiting factor for operating these systems is quickly becoming the manpower required to support operations. Current staffing demands require multiple operators for every vehicle in-flight. Given the anticipated operational demand such a staffing profile could easily become unsustainable. IST scientist and engineering are actively working with the Air Force to reverse the ratio of vehicle to operators; enabling single operators, or small teams of operators, to manage and direct multiple vehicles. IST is AFRL’s primary contractor developing its Vigilant Spirit Control Station framework. Vigilant Spirit is a software framework for the development of operator control stations that are capable of multi-vehicle control. Fundamental to Vigilant Spirit is its human-centered design, extensible, non-proprietary service oriented architecture and its scalability which allows for a variety of applications (e.g., ground control station, airborne control station, or hand-held dismount). The Vigilant Sprint framework includes an extensive simulation capability that supports scriptable/dynamic events, sensor models, voice/chat, weather that can support human-in-the-loop assessment, embedded training.



IST is a leading researcher in non-invasive brain stimulation and peripheral nerve stimulation to augment healthy human performance. We use electrical, magnetic, and light energy to enhance brain activity for a variety of Air Force relevant domains such as learning, memory, attention, arousal, multi-tasking, and fatigue mitigation. We also study the mechanisms of these cutting-edge techniques by collecting and analyzing biological and physiological data such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, occulometrics, heart rate, breath rate, blood, saliva, etc. We are field-testing this technology with operational units for the application of accelerating learning and as a fatigue mitigation tool during shift changes and for the purpose of transitioning this technology to the warfighter.



IST has been performing Biodynamic research for AFRL since XXXX. This research tests the effects on pilots of vertical deceleration, horizontal impulse, vibration, vertical impact, acceleration, impacts to helmets, mass properties, and materials. We maintain facilities that include the Vertical Deceleration Tower, Vertical Impact Device Six DoF Vibration, and Horizontal Impulse Accelerator. Our test support equipment is comprised of a full suite of manikins, high speed cameras, sensors and data acquisition system, and an on-site machine shop.



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