Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Dahai Liu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shawn Doherty, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dennis Vincenzi, Ph.D.


Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are being utilized at an increasing rate for a number of military applications. The potential for their use in the national airspace is also of interest to the Federal Aviation Administration, but there are some concerns about the safety of flying unmanned aircraft. The role of a UAS operator differs from that of a pilot in a manned aircraft, and this new role creates a need for a shift in interface and task design in order to take advantage of the full potential of these systems. This study examined the effect of time pressure and task uncertainty have on autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle operator task performance and workload. Thirty undergraduate students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University participated in this study. The primary task was image identification, and secondary tasks consisted of responding to events encountered in typical UAS operations. Time pressure was found to produce a significant difference in subjective workload ratings as well as secondary task performance scores, while task uncertainty was found to produce a significant difference in the primary task performance scores. The results were examined, and recommendations for future research are discussed.