Pilot Decision Making during Landing Point Designation

Future missions to the South Pole of the Moon will require a human-automation system to per- form landing point designation, or choosing a final landing spot. Determining the speciffc distribution of work between humans and automation is challenging, as human judgment and decision making for this applica- tion is not well-characterized. To address this knowledge deffciency, an experiment was designed to replicate the landing point designation task in both ideal and poor landing conditions. Fifteen helicopter pilots were observed to use one of two strategy types, with both strategies resulting in equatable performance. Regard- less of strategy use, terrain contrast conditions were observed to have a signifficant impact on the selection of safe landing sites. Other aspects of performance, such as task completion time, were unaffected by terrain con- trast. Pilots were also observed to be influenced by multiple terrain factors. Researchers noted twenty different types of actions across nine categories of scenario cues. When these cue-action relationships are used in conjunction with pilots’ evaluation criteria, models can be developed to predict decision making. Such models can be applied to calculating an appropriate division of work between humans and automation for a speciffic application.

Author: Karen Feigh

Professor of Cognitive Engineering, School of Aerospace Engineering Associate Chair for Research Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology