Using multisensory cues to facilitate air traffic management.
Ngo MK., Pierce RS., Spence C.
OBJECTIVE: In the present study, we sought to investigate whether auditory and tactile cuing could be used to facilitate a complex, real-world air traffic management scenario. BACKGROUND: Auditory and tactile cuing provides an effective means of improving both the speed and accuracy of participants' performance in a variety of laboratory-based visual target detection and identification tasks. METHOD: A low-fidelity air traffic simulation task was used in which participants monitored and controlled aircraft.The participants had to ensure that the aircraft landed or exited at the correct altitude, speed, and direction and that they maintained a safe separation from all other aircraft and boundaries. The performance measures recorded included en route time, handoff delay, and conflict resolution delay (the performance measure of interest). In a baseline condition, the aircraft in conflict was highlighted in red (visual cue), and in the experimental conditions, this standard visual cue was accompanied by a simultaneously presented auditory, vibrotactile, or audiotactile cue. RESULTS: Participants responded significantly more rapidly, but no less accurately, to conflicts when presented with an additional auditory or audiotactile cue than with either a vibrotactile or visual cue alone. CONCLUSION: Auditory and audiotactile cues have the potential for improving operator performance by reducing the time it takes to detect and respond to potential visual target events. APPLICATION: These results have important implications for the design and use of multisensory cues in air traffic management.