Monday, November 26, 2012

Bored while waiting to kill people? Poor baby.

Distractions can be lethal while driving, but they may help when flying drones, researchers say.
Operating a drone such as the Predator may seem like playing a video game, involving a joystick to steer the unmanned aerial vehicle and firing missiles at targets seen on computer screens via a camera on the UAV. However, such adrenaline-charged moments are much rarer in real life than in video games. Drone operators, many of them seasoned fighter pilots, typically spend most of their shift just watching and waiting while automated systems keep the droid running. A shift for the operator of a Predator can involve up to 12 hours of such boredom.
"You might park a UAV over a house, waiting for someone to come in or come out, and that's where the boredom comes in," said researcher Missy Cummings, a systems engineer at MIT. "It turns out it's a much bigger problem in any system where a human is effectively baby-sitting the automation."
Such mind-numbing work can impair performance by making it difficult for an operator to leap into action when intervention is necessary. Cummings and her colleagues have been looking for ways to keep drone operators alert during tedious downtimes.
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Yeah, it is probably pretty boring when your friends and family are thousands of miles away from the folks you're trying to kill.
Start attacking targets in the US though, and you'll have plenty to occupy your mind while you're working.
Just watch.