The visual search effectiveness of an unmanned ground vehicle operator within an optical flow condition


Military reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) missions are a crucial ingredient in overall mission safety and success. Proper intelligence will provide the ability to counter and neutralize enemy positions and attacks.

Accurate detection and identification of threatening targets is one the driving forces behind good R&S intelligence. Understanding this ability and how it is affected by possible field conditions (i.e., motion) was the primary focus of this study. Motion is defined in the current study as the perceived forward self-motion of unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) also called optical flow. For the purpose of this examination, both optical flow and the presence of a foil were manipulated. I examined how optical flow, perceived from an on-board frontal camera on a UGV, affected target detection and identification. The interaction of optical flow and foil distraction, as well as the level of influence each independently had on target detection and identification, were the principle examinations.

The effects that were originally predicted for the influence of optical flow on the visual search and identification task were not supported. Across manipulations of optical flow (i.e., present, not present), detection and identification were not significantly different, suggesting that the interruption rates of optical flow were ineffective at 29 frames per second (fps).

The most interesting finding in the data set was, in fact, related to the recognition measure. Participants were asked to classify the tank in which they had detected in the environment as either a target or non-target. When under conditions of non-optical flow, participants correctly rejected a foil tank as not being their target more often than they accepted the target as their actual target. These results, however, only appeared to have had an effect in the non-optical flow condition. Further research should be conducted to properly evaluate the effects of varying frame rate interruption on the perception of optical flow. This will subsequently lead to an understanding of the phenomenon that is optical flow, and how it ultimately affects detection and identification tasks.


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Thesis Completion





Jentsch, Florian G.


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences

Degree Program



Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences;Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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