On its surface, operating a military drone looks a lot like playing a video game: Operators sit at workstations, manipulating joysticks to remotely adjust a drone’s pitch and elevation, while grainy images from the vehicle’s camera project onto a computer screen. An operator can issue a command to fire if an image reveals a hostile target, but such adrenaline-charged moments are few and far between.Fucking MIT, how can you write something like this with a straight face, without being ashamed?
Instead, a drone operator — often a seasoned fighter pilot — spends most of his shift watching and waiting, as automated systems keep the vehicle running. Such shifts can last up to 12 hours, as is the case for operators of the MQ-1 Predator, a missile-loaded unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used by the U.S. Air Force for overseas surveillance and combat.
“You might park a UAV over a house, waiting for someone to come in or come out, and that’s where the boredom comes in,” says Mary “Missy” Cummings, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at MIT. “It turns out it’s a much bigger problem in any system where a human is effectively babysitting the automation.”
Cummings says such unstimulating work environments can impair performance, making it difficult for an operator to jump into action in the rare instances when human input is needed. She and researchers in MIT’s Humans and Automation Lab are investigating how people interact with automated systems, and are looking for ways to improve UAV operator performance.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is supposedly working on new rules on drones, but the fact that more than 2500 people have been killed in this undeclared drone war, many of these strikes not even against enemies of the US and resulting in countless innocent people being killed-- it's simply evil and appalling.