22. Guiding the Design of a Deployable UAV Operations Cell

Janie A. DeJoode, Nancy Cooke, Steven M. Shope, Harry K. Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Today's battlespace is a very complex system of humans and technology. It could be thought of as a system of layers - where there might be a layer of ground operations and a layer of air operations. Within the air operations layer exists two additional layers of manned air operations and unmanned air operations. If you peel back all layers of today's battlespace and just view the "unmanned air operations" layer, you will find another complex system of humans and technology working as just one element of the overall system. This system of uninhabited air operations might consist of different types of uninhabited air vehicles (e.g., Predator, Hunter, etc.) performing different types of missions (e.g., Intelligence, Reconnaissance, Surveillance-IRS; IRS-strike; search and rescue, etc.). It is overwhelming to think that there is one large entity responsible for the command-and-control of the entire air operations layer of today's battlespace. Air Operations Centers (AOCs) are the nerve cells for the command-and-control of all air operations (both manned and unmanned operations). The footprint of the AOC consists of multiple workstations and hundreds of operators who man the AOC around the clock and perform a myriad of command-and-control functions, such as time-sensitive targeting, weather monitoring, battlefield management, and special operations support. The multiple layers of coordination required in operating a large system of humans and technology, such as the AOC, can have negative impacts on team performance. For example, if a decision to strike a time-sensitive target cannot be passed through the decision making path in a timely manner, critical opportunities can be missed, resources can be lost, or in the worst case, lives could be lost. Or, if an officer with insufficient knowledge of UAVs commands a ground control crew to fly a UAV into weather too dangerous for the aircraft (although suitable for other types of manned aircraft), a multi-million dollar resource could be wasted. To some, the sheer magnitude, complexity, and coordination requirements of command-and-control systems make the need for human factors glaringly obvious; to others, it is not until inefficient coordination results that a problem is even realized. Unfortunately, inefficient coordination is often misinterpreted as a need for more humans or technology (Klinger & Klein, 1999). This chapter presents an example in which human factors was incorporated into the design of a command-and-control node early in the design stage. Specifically, a preliminary cognitive task analysis (CTA) was performed on the Deployable Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Operations Cell (DUOC), a concept for the future designed to provide specialized command-and-control of UAVs. The objective of the CTA was to develop an understanding of the interactions among the variety of people, roles, organizations, and technology involved in UAV command-and-control. It was our goal to use the results of the CTA to lay the foundation for developing a synthetic task environment (STE) of the DUOC. However, results from CTAs in general, can be used as the basis for a multitude of further activities (e.g., designing or re-designing the system, training, etc.; Cooke & Shope, 2004).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-327
Number of pages17
JournalAdvances in Human Performance and Cognitive Engineering Research
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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