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Multimodal Pilot Control Behavior in Combined Target-Following Disturbance-Rejection Tasks


Pool,  DM
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Zaal, P., Pool, D., Mulder, M., & van Paassen, M. (2009). Multimodal Pilot Control Behavior in Combined Target-Following Disturbance-Rejection Tasks. Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, 32(5), 1418-1428. doi:10.2514/1.44648.

Investigating how humans use their perceptual modalities while controlling a vehicle is important for the design of new control systems and the optimization of simulator motion cueing. For the identification of separate pilot response functions to the different perceived cues, multiple forcing functions need to be inserted into the manual control loop. An example of a task with multiple forcing functions is a combined target-following disturbance-rejection task, where a target and disturbance signal are used to separate the human visual and vestibular motion responses. The use of multiple forcing functions, however, also affects the nature of the control task and how the motion cues are used by the pilot to form a proper control action. This paper presents the results of an experiment where possible effects of using multiple forcing functions on pilot control behavior in an aircraft pitch control task are investigated. The results indicate that pilot performance and control activity are significantly lower when the relative power of the target forcing function is increased. This is caused by a significant change in multimodal pilot control behavior. With an increase in relative target power, the visual-perception gain is reduced and the visual time delay becomes higher. The motion-perception gain reduces if both forcing functions have significant power. It is also found that multimodal pilot control behavior in a pure target or disturbance task can be analyzed by adding a small additional disturbance or target signal, respectively. In this case, the effects on control behavior are found to be minimal, while still being able to accurately estimate the parameters of the multichannel pilot model.