Provocation: Is The UAV Control Ratio the Right Question?

Hancock, P. A., Mouloua, M., Gilson, R., Szalma, J., & Oron-Gilad, T. (2007). Provocation: Is the UAV Control Ratio the Right Question?. Ergonomics in Design, 15(1), 7.

     There are a variety of ongoing attempts to generate unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technologies to exploit the advantages that these semiautomated and automated airborne platforms promise to render. (Although we refer specifically to UAVs here, our arguments apply, in principle, to all remote vehicles what ever their medium of operation. The principles themselves also extend to other forms of nontransport-based  entities.) With regard to such operation, the collective community is searching for the ratio between operator(s) and vehicle(s) that will prove most efficient and effective.
     At present, the estimates of this ratio vary widely around unity, where unity is a ratio of 1:1, UAV:operator. Current operational system require a whole team of human supporters to launch, control, direct, recover, and maintain even one single UAV. Despite these difficulties, design aspirations are for ratios that significantly exceed unity, perhaps to near-term goals of 4:1 up to “blue sky” representation of perhaps hundreds of UAVs to a single operator.

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