NSWC PCD, USMC Partner to Understand Effects of Motion
Posted on: June 13, 2012
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) Human Systems Integration Team is supporting the U.S. Marine Corps in better understanding the effects of amphibious vehicle motion on human performance by conducting a 13-week-long Habitability Simulation Test (HST). Presently, the test is in week eight, and is scheduled to conclude in July 2012.
NSWC PCD is conducting the HST for Program Manager Advanced Amphibious Assault (PM AAA) using 156 active duty U.S. Marines as test participants. The test is designed to evaluate three combat relevant functions potentially affected by exposure to craft motion. These functions are cognitive performance (the ability to assess the situation and communicate effectively), physical coordination (the ability to maneuver to an objective), and sensory perception (marksmanship). The HST exposes participants to simulated Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) or Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) motion over a range of sea states and durations representative of current and future CONOPs. The resulting human performance is measured using a battery of tests including running, throwing grenades, and shooting a demilitarized M4 rifle, modified to use a laser and compressed air.
“Combat effectiveness is defined by functions affecting the ability of personnel to conduct combat operations during an amphibious assault,” said Program Manager, PM-AAA Col. Keith Moore, USMC. “We seek to understand and ultimately identify preventative measures that will allow our Marines to maintain expeditionary and amphibious warfare combat effectiveness.”
The HST is a follow-on test to the Habitability Assessment Test (HAT) conducted at Camp Pendleton, Calif., by PM AAA in August 2011. The HAT, which was also supported by members of the team at NSWC PCD, was the initial assessment of the effects of amphibious vehicle motion on U.S. Marine performance.
“The HAT was conducted to determine how far off shore U.S. Marines can deploy from amphibious ships aboard the amphibious tractors and still be effective when the objective is reached,” explained Eric Pierce, Project Engineer, NSWC PCD (Code E41). “The overall objective of the HST is to build on lessons learned from the HAT and determine the degradation effects in the Warfighter’s combat effectiveness after transiting in an amphibious vehicle over land and various sea states for various time durations.”
A motion simulator platform located at NSWC PCD’s Biodynamics Lab is being used to simulate AAV and EFV transits. Understanding the limitations of Marines during amphibious assault missions is important to maximizing operational utility on the battlefield. We believe that performance will degrade with exposure to increasing severity of motion sickness. Specifically, Sopite syndrome, which is a physical ailment that includes tiredness and mood swings, can lead to a lack of initiative,” said Amanda Bandstra, Principal Investigator, NSWC PCD (Code E41).
“I’ve been impressed with this team and their technical abilities,” said Moore. “We came to NSWC PCD because of the past proven performance of this team on the earlier HAT testing.”
The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Technical Warrant Holder (TWH) for Displays and Human Factors Engineering (Surface Ship Warfare Systems) recognizes NSWC PCD as the leading expert on the effects of motion on human performance and injury. As such, the TWH recently tasked NSWC PCD to revise the shock and vibration section of MIL-STD-1472G, the primary human factors reference for all of DoD.
“We also have membership as U.S. delegates on the international ISO committee, where our research is being used to revise ISO 2631 PT5,” said Pierce.
Moore, who visited NSWC PCD June 6 and 7, 2012, said after the HST concludes, future research may evaluate environmental conditions such as air temperature and quality, as well as lighting in troop compartments. The questions remain – how much lighting is required for situation awareness in troop compartments? What effects does ambient or conditional lighting have on troop effectiveness? Would air conditioned compartments impact a Marine’s ability to transition ashore and effectively perform? NSWC PCD is a leader in Littoral Warfare and Coastal Defense.