A Human-System Interface with Contingency Planning for Collaborative Operations of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
The U.S. military is researching capabilities for collaborative and highly autonomous unmanned aircraft systems to conduct missions in denied or contested airspace, where multiple teams of aircraft would work together under the supervision of a single operator. One of the key challenges in this paradigm is the need for an effective human-system interface (HSI): one that could provide sufficiently detailed command and control authority and monitoring of plan execution for the entire system without overwhelming the operator. Another interesting challenge is the need to proactively find and approve multiple contingency plans, effectively granting the highly autonomous agents more freedom to operate when communication to the human supervisor is denied. This paper describes our recent efforts to design and develop a combined human-system interface and contingency planning tool that addresses these challenges. We present the design of our SuperC3DE system, provide examples of how certain interface components and contingency planning methods would be used in a notional scenario, and discuss key takeaways from formative evaluations by subject matter experts.