Crew roles and operational protocols for rotary-wing micro-UAVs in close urban environments Conference Paper uri icon


  • A crew organization and four-step operational protocol is recommended based on a cumulative descriptive field study of teleoperated rotary-wing micro air vehicles (MAV) used for structural inspection during the response and recovery phases of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. The use of MAVs for real civilian missions in real operating environments provides a unique opportunity to consider human-robot interaction. The analysis of the human-robot interaction during 8 days, 14 missions, and 38 flights finds that a three person crew is currently needed to perform distinct roles: Pilot, Mission Specialist, and Flight Director. The general operations procedure is driven by the need for safety of bystanders, other aircraft, the tactical team, and the MAV itself, which leads to missions being executed as a series of short, line-of-sight flights rather than a single flight. Safety concerns may limit the utility of autonomy in reducing the crew size or enabling beyond line-of-sight-operations but autonomy could lead to an increase in flights per mission and reduced Pilot training demands. This paper is expected to contribute to set a foundation for future research in HRI and MAV autonomy and to help establish regulations and acquisition guidelines for civilian operations. Additional research in autonomy, interfaces, attention, and out-of-the-loop (OOTL) control is warranted. Copyright 2008 ACM.

author list (cited authors)

  • Murphy, R. R., Pratt, K. S., & Burke, J. L.

citation count

  • 45

publication date

  • January 2008