Game of Drones
With a shortage of drone pilots, the U.S. Air Force has begun training and enlisting airmen. Results from a new study have concluded that in addition to trained pilots, skilled video gamers would also be great drone pilots as there are a number of parallels between the two.
The study conducted by Forensic psychologist Jacqueline Wheatcroft and aerospace engineer Mike Jump, both of the University of Liverpool, tested gamers as UAV pilots. The report compared gamers who played flight simulation games to professional pilots. A fourth group consisting of people who had both no video game or pilot experience were also tested.
“We measured the personality constructs such as how conscientious they were, how agreeable they were, how open to experiences they were, their neuroticism, extraversion and so on,” says Wheatcroft in Airspace Magazine. “What these tell us is how they are going to react in given situations.”
Jump developed a simulated UAV using Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) as the display engine. It was similar in size and performance to the aircraft used to prepare aviation pilots. During each stage, the pilots had three situations where they had to decide what to do, which involved various levels of danger. Professional pilots had the best scores on neuroticism meaning they are better prepared to face stressful situations. Gamers, in neuroticism score, did nearly as well as professional pilots.
Throughout the testing, a UAV instructor said: “I think a lot of the skills that gamers have in hand-eye coordination, the ability to multitask and that type of stuff carry through to flying un[pilot]ed aircraft systems.” Wheatcroft and Jump are preparing for more research on gamers and drones. Given the results of the report, it may be a fruitful field for study and could greatly expand the applicant pool in this new and rapidly expanding industry.