The SCOUT Concept
The Supervisory Control Operation User Testbed (SCOUT) was developed to examine the psychological and physiological effects that long duration missions have on UAV Operators. As UAV technology advances, more autonomy is given to the UAV during a given mission. Where previously a team of UAV Operators would be directly engaged in flying the vehicle to assigned waypoints, and making functional decisions for the UAV during the mission, now many of those functions can be handled by the UAV itself.
With many of the basic mission activities now offloaded from the UAV Operators to the vehicle itself, the UAV Operator role is transitioning to more of a supervisory role, where the human element is kept in the loop for critical mission decisions, such as target selection, and live ordinance control. While this shift can reduce the level of effort needed to operate UAVs, it can leave the UAV Operator with long periods of inactivity during a mission in which they do not have to intervene in the UAV flight or mission objectives. After extended periods of inactivity, a critical event may occur in which the UAV Operator must be alert, and ready to make mission-critical decisions on the spot. This ability to stay vigilant, otherwise known as maintaining combat readiness, can be measured using biometric feedback, and comparing the individual's results to an established baseline, which is exactly what SCOUT is designed to do.