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Mirror neuron based alerts for control flight into terrain avoidance

Causse, Mickaël and Phan, Jérémie and Ségonzac, Tiphaine and Dehais, Frédéric Mirror neuron based alerts for control flight into terrain avoidance. (2012) In: AHFE 2012, 21 July 2012 - 25 July 2012 (San Francisco, United States).

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Official URL: http://www.crcnetbase.com/doi/abs/10.1201/b12313-22

Abstract

Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accidents occur when an aircraft, under the control of the crew, is flown into terrain (or water) with no prior awareness from the part of the crew of the imminent catastrophe (Wiener, 1977). In commercial aviation, CFIT are among the deadliest accidents but the situation has continuously improved this last decade. In particular, a spectacular fall in the number of fatalities was made possible by the introduction of enhanced ground proximity warning systems (EGPWS). However, CFIT accidents remain the second leading cause of on-board fatalities and several crashes of this category involving airplanes equipped with EGPWS occurred since 2007. The human factor plays a major role in that type of disaster and studies show that visual and auditory alarms are not always taken into account. Yet, when a ‘PULL UP’ alert is triggered, the pilot has only a few seconds to react in order to avoid the impending CFIT. Most of the time, the procedure is quite simple: the pilot must pull full back on the stick and apply maximum thrust to gain altitude. In this study, we introduced a new type of visual alert specifically dedicated to activate the mirror neurons that appear to play a key role in both action understanding and imitation (Rizzolatti, 2004). Such motor neurons are known to fire either when a person acts or when a person observes the same action performed by another one. We hypothesized that an immediate understanding of a required behavior, displayed by a video that shows the appropriate actions to perform, will activate the mirror neurons and provoke an extremely rapid reaction from the pilots to prevent a potential collision. We designed short videos displayed in the primary flight displays in which virtual avatars explicitly performed the actions on the levers and on the stick. Three pilots completed 10 different flight scenarios during the approach phase with a full motion A320 flight simulator. In some of the scenarios, an alarm was triggered just before an imminent collision and the pilots had to immediately perform a go-around. The results showed that the videos with avatars allowed much shorter reaction times than the regular textual ‘PULL UP’ alerts. While the anti-collision maneuver was initiated in 7.60 s (SD = 1.83) with the regular alert, video mean reaction time was 1.27 s (SD = 0.31). This encouraging preliminary outcome opens new perspectives on mirror neuron based human machine interfaces.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Audience (conference):International conference proceedings
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Institution:Université de Toulouse > Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace - ISAE-SUPAERO (FRANCE)
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Deposited By: Mickael Causse
Deposited On:03 Oct 2014 07:34

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