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Human Factors Principles in Design of Computer-
Mediated Visualization for Robot Missions
#David I Gertman 1, David J Bruemmer 2
'Human Factors andAdvancedl &C Department, 2Robot and Intelligent Systems Department
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
Idaho Falls USA
Abstract- With increased use of robots as a resource in missions
supporting countermine, improvised explosive devices (IEDs),
and chemical, biological, radiological nuclear and conventional
explosives (CBRNE), fully understanding the best means by
which to complement the human operator's underlying
perceptual and cognitive processes could not be more important.
Consistent with control and display integration practices in many
other high technology computer-supported applications, current
robotic design practices rely highly upon static guidelines and
design heuristics that reflect the expertise and experience of the
individual designer. In order to use what we know about human
factors (HF) to drive human robot interaction (HRI) design, this
paper reviews underlying human perception and cognition
principles and shows how they were applied to a threat detection
The presentation of highly complex sensor-based data vital
to robot missions is best served by designing visual
representations and interactions that highlight salient aspects
of the data, provide situation awareness, and support cognitive
and analytic reasoning processes. The goal is to transform
highly complex, multifaceted data into simple, abstracted
information that is visually structured to support situation
awareness and decision making. Displays supporting
countermine, improvised explosive device (IED), chemical,
biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) and emergency
response missions should allow for user-directed interrogation
of the environment and robot status, and should employ real
world representations that benefit from our understanding of
perception and human information processing.
Guidelines for computer-mediated visualization should
encompass what we know about: graphic design, processes
underlying visualizing quantitative information, the unique
aspects of the task and task conditions and cognition and
perception principles. Further, the user should be able to
request additional information or have the same information
presented in a different fashion, i.e., be able to change the
perspective or detail.
To date, much HRI research has focused upon improving
human-robot dialog as a means to overcome communication
challenges. HRI has also leveraged heavily on roboticists'
efforts to develop robot physical and cognitive behaviors. In
terms of the latter, there has been much effort focused upon
face and gesture reading by robots and the development of
companion robots. For the past 4 years, the European Union
(EU) has funded the Cogniron Project whose objectives
include developing a cognitive companion robot with
mobility, task skills, and the ability to engage in social
interactions with humans for long periods of time on a daily
basis . For a survey of the videos highlighting interaction,
issues and progress in recent developments of companion bots
see Bartneck and Kanda 2007 .
Whether the robot is intended for the home environment or
assisted living as in the case above or for other applications,
HRI research has been defined by the domains to which it has
been applied including countermines, bomb detection and
disposal, search and rescue, aerospace, and medical. With a
few notable exceptions, HRI has not diligently sought human
factors principles for visualization. The first exception is the
SRI DaVinci system surgical robot being used at University of
California San Diego (UCSD) medical center that provides
physicians situation awareness via highly dexterous
manipulation capability coupled with 10x magnification, and
3D visualization. Further examples of research examining 3D
visualization and operator situation awareness in support of
robot interaction can be found in Bruemmer et al 2006  and
Often, robotics research less emphasis upon the
representation provided to the operator than on the robot's
performance. Operators find themselves adapting to the
interface. Clearly, if robot technology is difficult for the end-
user to intuitively grasp, the utility of potentially valuable
technology will be limited. The more autonomous or
intelligent robots become, the more necessary it is for the
interface to provide the human with a window into the
intentions and internal state of the robot. To further this
endeavor, the following paper argues for a greater emphasis
on human factors in HRI research and highlights key yet
overlooked areas of human factors that may facilitate effective
II. HF CONSIDERATIONS FOR INTERACTIVE CONTROL
Human factors (HF) focuses on the role of sensation,
attention, perception, cognition, effort, utility (value), and
physiological and psychological influencing factors on
cognition and the human-system interaction issues that are
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Gertman, David I & Bruemmer, David J. Human Factors Principles in Design of Computer-Mediated Visualization for Robot Missions, article, December 1, 2008; [Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc925574/m1/2/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.