never blame the user…

[heard about it on NPR, Seattle-Post story]

Around 9 p.m., the man was in line at a self-service checkout stand, ready to buy a pry bar and a hacksaw, according to a Seattle police report.

But, as a manager told an officer, the man accidentally hit the button on the computer screen for Spanish.

That was the tipping point for this consumer.

He became “frustrated that the machine was speaking Spanish,” the police report says.

So, instead of asking for help, he let loose a blow with the pry bar and shattered the computer. He ran from the store and made a beeline to some railroad tracks, the report said.

The New Field of Unmanned Aircraft

Though for some, turning war into a video game might remind them of 1984, unmanned aircraft offer unparalleled safety to the pilot.

NPR recently covered the technological and social changes that come with unmanned aircraft, but the human factors of tracking, flying, and manipulating the Predator was not mentioned.

Obvious issues include:

  • Lag time from the camera halfway around the world
  • Limited acuity and field of view
  • Decision-making (e.g., bombing a target on a screen vs. dropping a bomb on people)
  • High loss of equipment (if not pilot life)

In short, I worry that the news presented to the public paints a too-rosy picture of these aircraft, implying that we will eventually have robots fighting robots from the comfort of our own homes.

I’d like to hear from people what they consider to be the most interesting human factors challenge of unmanned vehicles. I don’t know much about the design of their interfaces and whether they are more similar to a cockpit or a game console, but I’m interested to learn. Feel free to comment!

game

cockpit

Not blaming the user since 2007!

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