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Thesis Defense - Myers

Effects of Visual Representations of Dynamic Hazard Worlds on Human Navigational Performance
William Myers
Computer Science PhD Candidate
8/25/2000
2:00pm-4:00pm

The visual representation of non-deterministic dynamic hazard features and hazard evolution forecasting skill strongly affects the ability of humans to navigate efficiently. This research developed a new visual representation of the dynamic hazard space. This spatial representation of the hazard space is termed "time-warped" because a single image representing the space will contain data from different forecast lead times at different locations. A study was conducted to evaluate this new representation relative to more traditional hazard space representations at various forecast skill levels.

Twenty four subjects flew nearly 7000 simulated aircraft flights through two-dimensional dynamic aviation weather hazards. The individual trials were developed to have a video game feel in which the subjects directed their craft across a computer screen using a mouse. The flight cost, i.e. score, was a combination of fuel consumption and hazard avoidance costs. This score was presented to the user after each trial as performance feedback.

The results show that for sufficiently high forecast skill levels, performance with the time-warped display presentation is better than with a display of the current hazard situation. The improvement is significant in both fuel and hazard cost. This means that it is possible to fly routes that are simultaneously shorter and safer. The time-warped representation is also more effective than the traditional routing information representation, a line indicating the route from the current position to the destination. If not combined with a "time-warped" representation, the traditional representation is surprisingly ineffective at improving performance relative to a display of current conditions. Only at very high forecast skill levels does the improvement of the traditional representation become significant.

In a two- or three-dimensional environment with forecast hazard locations, human navigation may be enhanced by the proper display of navigational information. The proper display presentation depends on the forecast skill level. The results of this study suggest that the time-warped representation of the hazard space will be more effective than other presentation formats examined once a critical forecast skill level has been achieved. This skill level is specific to each environment. The use of a time-warped display in these situations improves the user's situational awareness. In a three dimensional application, the time-warped display can create a temporally augmented reality.

Committee: Clayton Lewis, Professor (Chair)
Richard Byrd, Professor
Michael Eisenberg, Associate Professor
Bruce Carmichael, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Kent Goodrich, Department of Mathematics
Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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