An experimental comparison of haptic and automated pilot support systems

Mario Olivari, Frank M. Nieuwenhuizen, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, Lorenzo Pollini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

10 Citations (Scopus)


External aids are required to increase safety and performance during the manual control of an aircraft. Automated systems allow to surpass the performance usually achieved by pilots. However, they suffer from several issues caused by pilot unawareness of the control command from the automation. Haptic aids can overcome these issues by showing their control command through forces on the control device. To investigate how the transparency of the haptic control action in flences performance and pilot behavior, a quantitative comparison between haptic aids and automation is needed. An experiment was conducted in which pilots performed a compensatory tracking task with haptic aids and with automation. The haptic aid and the automation were designed to be equivalent when the pilot was out-of-the-loop, i.e., to provide the same control command. Pilot performance and control effort were then evaluated with pilots in-the-loop and contrasted to a baseline condition without external aids. The haptic system allowed pilots to improve performance compared with the baseline condition. However, automation outperformed the other two conditions. Pilots control effort was reduced by the haptic aid and the automation in a similar way. In addition, the pilot open-loop response was estimated with a non-parametric estimation method. Changes in the pilot response were observed in terms of increased crossover frequency with automation, and decreased neuromuscular peak with haptics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference 2014
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781624102974
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference 2014 - Atlanta, United States
Duration: 2014 Jun 162014 Jun 20

Publication series

NameAIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference 2014


OtherAIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work in this paper was partially supported by the myCopter project, funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Program. Heinrich H. Bülthoff was (also) supported by the Brain Korea 21 PLUS Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education. All correspondence should be directed to Heinrich H. Bülthoff (

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 by Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Aerospace Engineering


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