for the same number of manned aircraft (e.g., can a single, human crew “pilot” multiple AVs and still be highly effective)? Briefly, the answers to these questions are that the bandwidth currently needed to provide the remote human operator with the necessary situation awareness is very large. However, providing this bandwidth is actually not difficult based on physical law, as discussed in Appendix B. Automated systems can handle aircraft controls and communications latencies at least as well as humans, so it is possible to make UAVs and UGVs (communicating through a UAV network) highly capable by putting the crew offboard. The communications issues that constrain interoperability between AV systems are discussed in Chapter 7 in the subsection entitled “Communications Issues as Constraining Factors on Interoperability.” What is not straightforward is the question of having a single crew control many vehicles simultaneously—because during periods of peak operational tempo, the performance of all such systems are limited primarily by the ability of the crew to sense and assimilate information, even if all of the necessary information is delivered from the AV to the remote crew. Huge advances in computing and algorithms will be required to change this latter fact. An alternative approach to having a single crew pilot multiple vehicles is to time-share less than one crew per vehicle, allocating them only to those vehicles where the operational tempo is greatest and accepting the losses that result. This approach may be cost-efficient if the costs of the AVs can be made relatively low compared with the operational costs of maintaining a large number of crews. There is little specific work on how operator performance degrades with increased operations tempo and mission complexity, but psychological research suggests limits to performance, and more such research is required. The operator-to-vehicle ratio as a function of operations tempo and mission complexity is not known, but estimates for UGVs range from 2:1 to 1:5. Refining operator-to-vehicle ratio as a function of operations tempo and mission is important, and more research is needed.18


Private communications with Clinton W. Kelly, Science Applications International Corporation, May 2004.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement