Focusing attention on what matters most

Naval operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) face multiple demands on their attention while conducting surveillance missions. Research indicates that training can effectively help operators learn to better handle multiple tasks and interruptions. This adaptive, gamified, scenario-based training offers guidance and practice for allocating attention on what matters most in an area of interest.

Training for attentional control

Project Details

Proposal Title:
ATTICUS: Attentional Trainer to Improve Control of Unmanned Systems
Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division
Contract Numbers:
N68335-16-C-0469, N68335-18-C-0138
Start Date:

ATTICUS provides adaptive, gamified, scenario-based training to offer guidance and practice on allocating attention to perform concurrent UAV tasks. ATTICUS provides a simulated version of tools that UAV operators use, highlighting across multiple displays of information to draw the operator’s attention to necessary aspects of the tasks. This work allows operators to learn how to handle multiple simultaneous tasks without getting drawn into a single display or task.

How we did it

ATTICUS trains UAV operators to maintain visual scanning behaviors in order to appropriately direct and prioritize attention, resulting in safer, more effective operations and missions. We developed ATTICUS based on interviews and analyses conducted with multiple operators of UAVs, particularly Navy personnel with experience in sensor operations. From there, we identified six main tasks to include in the simulation.

ATTICUS includes two different types of interfaces. One is for the trainee who performs missions. Their performance is tracked, and ATTICUS provides feedback on the objective task performance, interruption management, prioritization of tasks, and scanning behaviors.

The second interface enables adaptive training to provide a tailored experience for individual trainees. Training instructors are able to develop a variety of simulated missions, specifying the events that occur in a mission to customize the complexity of a mission so that it fits the trainee’s abilities. The degree of attentional guidance provided by the system is also customizable. Additionally, instructors can set criteria for increasing the degree of attentional guidance offered based on trainee performance.