The Role of Affective Computing for Improving Situation Awareness in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations: A US Perspective

The Role of Affective Computing for Improving Situation Awareness in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations: A US Perspective

Jonathan Bishop (Centre for Research into Online Communities and E-Learning Systems, Belgium)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7278-9.ch020
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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, are a robotic form of military aircraft that are remotely operated by humans. Due to lack of situation awareness, such technology has led to the deaths of civilians through the inaccurate targeting of missile or gun attacks. This chapter presents the case for how a patented invention can be used to reduce civilian casualties through attaching an affect recognition sensor to a UAV that uses a database of strategies, tactics and commands to better instruct fighter pilots on how to respond while in combat so as to avoid misinterpreting civilians as combatants. The chapter discusses how this system, called VoisJet, can reduce many of the difficulties that come about for UAV pilots, including reducing cognitive load and opportunity for missing data. The chapter concludes that using UAVs fitted with VoisJet could allow for the reduction of the size of standing armies so that defence budgets are not overstretched outside of peacetime.
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The use of remote systems like drones, technically known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), is starting to move out of the first wave of public and media attention, and now needs to shift toward a more cohesive debate with productive and practical ends. Indeed, it has been argued that a problem with the design of existing UAVs driven by policy makers, who are not militarily qualified, has been illustrative of the claim that new technological practices that aim to bridge physical distance provide a more efficient moral distance and make it difficult for people to exercise moral responsibility (Coeckelbergh, 2013). This has been associated with Internet abuse such as trolling, where people will abuse others for their own enjoyment without considering the consequences (Bishop, 2013; Bishop, 2014; Hardaker, 2013; McCosker, 2013), but should be considered a flaw that needs adjusting in current drone systems where the actions of pilots would be dehumanised. The use of UAVs by the US Government provides greater freedom in those military personnel carrying out operations on their behalf, as use of foreign military personnel and the agreement of their government will be less necessary (Byman, 2013). A greater use of UAVs also means that there will be fewer casualties arising out of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as air-based operations provider greater safety for military personnel in this regard (Reynolds, 2013). The problem however is evident that the way UAVs are currently designed does not allow for the efficiency of operations and the safety of civilians and other non-military targets.

Uses and Limitations of UAVs in Combat Operations

The NATO forces are becoming more dependent on UAVs, and their use has been driven by the US and such policy choices have consequences, regardless of whether their military leaders believe these are right or wrong (Kean et al., 2004, p.376). Any government in the world will want to increase its national security whilst limiting loss of life to those in its military and the civilians in the localities where its military operations are engaged. However, before trying to understand the technology of UAVs and how they can be improved, it is important to understand why there is a growing need for the US military to be allowed to use UAVs in military engagements in order to safeguard the democratic rights of Americans whom they must protect whoever is in power in the White House.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Jihadist: A person who believes that the Holy Land and other Middle East nations occupied since the Crusades should be based wholly on Islamic law and uses force rather than democratic means to achieve that.

Autonomy: The extent to which a person can make decisions for themselves in any given operational environment.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle: An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an aircraft that is piloted by a remote operator in order to achieve a particular objective, such as to eliminate enemy combatants.

Action-Data: Information picked up by a sensor that describes what is occurring in the situation being monitored.

VoisJet: VoisJet is a method for assisting UAV pilots in making decisions while involved in military operations through reducing the cognitive load and other factors that can lead to errors of judgement.

Zionist: A person who believes that the Holy Land should only consist only of Jewish Semites, and use undemocratic means to exclude Arab Semites and other religious/ethic groups from that territory.

Hamas: A group of Islamic militants who although not Jihadists are committed to using force in order to protect the Arab Semite territories from being occupied by Zionists. It can be compared to the First and Second Continental Congresses, which was a military force that existed prior to US independence and then became the US Department of Justice.

Sensory Data: Action-data that is made available to a person for processing using their own senses and judgement.

Situation Awareness: Situation awareness refers to the extent to which someone is able to know what is going on in any given situation and the options available.

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