Consider it a case of putting the drone before the driver. As drone use has taken off, human error remains a leading cause of unmanned aerial vehicle crashes. The problem is that drones are currently controlled by many different mechanisms, from joysticks to mouse-and-keyboard configurations to touchscreen interfaces. This variety introduces more opportunities for mistakes, especially when multiple important controls are placed in close proximity.
A new article in the journal of Ergonomics in Design suggests a simple solution: better ergonomics. The report recommends that drone-pilot workspaces be configured in accordance with the blandly named "ANSI/HFES 100-2007 human factors standard", a guide to which can be purchased for $340 (you can read a rough overview here.) Basically, the authors argue that drone controls should be standardized, and they should look like a regular computer setup.
To illustrate what can go wrong when drone controls get too complicated, the report details an incident in which a drone operator, using a joystick, missed the landing gear button and instead killed the engine, causing the drone to stop flying and plummet out of the sky.
As early as 2005, a study of UAV crashes suggested that improved interfaces may reduce the number of accidents. The fact is, there's no reason to fly a drone with a joystick. That is a holdover from Air Force practices, and while it makes a lot of sense for an on-board pilot, so much of drone flight is automated that simpler, human-proof interfaces are better. Hence the recommendation of workplace ergonomic standards--while the drones themselves are more complicated than regular cube farm tasks, piloting them shouldn't be. Adopting and adapting to the mundane of an office might be the least cool thing for drone pilots to do, but it's also the most fiscally responsible.
Actually the answer is exactly what I was thinking.
Those guys look really uncomfortable at their desk.
The military could learn some things from gamers, specifically PC gamers. They have excellent setups, and also many play simulator and space games. Turn the drone piloting station into a gaming rig/station, and you've got a win/win.
And don't forget the rumble chair!
Better yet, make them completely autonomous, with just one red button for shooting.
So, how many drone crashes have there been? What is the percentage? Do some types have higher rates?
And, is there any proof that one type of interface is better than another?
I don't doubt that they can be improved, but this article was pretty information free.
Also, good user interfaces are hard. It's easy to say that they're bad, it's less easy to fix them.
To encourage total concentration, remote pilots should sit on chairs fitted with explosive charges. If the wicked 'terrorists' manage to bring down their drone - BOOM!
Wouldn't it help to build the controls into some sort of flight simulator cockpit?
UAV crashes are mostly the result of human error, but it's not because of pilot errors. Instead, it's the result of errors made by engineers and designers of the UAV systems.
UAVs are a fairly new technology. It will still take a while for engineers to work out all of the bugs in the systems, avionics and softwares.