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Technical report | Usability of a Battle Management System Under Simulated Vehicular Motion


Military personnel may be required to conduct command and control tasks whilst under various levels of motion. This study examined the usability of a Battle Management System under motion. Usability was assessed by examining performance degradations for typical Battle Management System tasks that a commander may be expected to complete whilst on the move. It was found that there were no differences in task performance between the static and mild levels of motion, but there were differences between the mild and high levels of motion. It was also found that participants performed better at tasks in which they were receiving information, rather than tasks they were in which they had to input information. There were also learning effects where participants performed better in their latter experiment sessions.

Executive Summary

Previous research has found that motion has an adverse effect on people’s cognitive and psychomotor abilities. This has implications for military personnel operating computer based equipment in military vehicles. This report covers an experiment into the usability of a Battle Management System (BMS) under different levels of simulated vehicular motion in order to perform key command and control (C2) tasks.

The experiment simulated six different types of BMS tasks including reading text, reading an enemy unit’s location, panning and zooming, creating text, creating a boundary line, and creating a new enemy unit. Participants were required to complete these tasks under static, mild and high motion conditions. They were also asked to provide a subjective rating of their workload and the difficulty of the task. A Simulator Sickness questionnaire was also completed by participants.

It was found that there was no performance difference between the static and mild motion conditions. However, there was a performance difference between the mild and high motion conditions. This was replicated in the subjective responses. No effect of simulator sickness was observed.

It was found that for the Pan and Zoom, Read Text, and Read Unit tasks, participants performed equally amongst the three motion conditions. However, for the Create Text, Create Line, and Create Unit tasks, performance degraded as the motion increased.

There were overall learning effects across the six experimental sessions and for particular tasks. There was no learning effect for the static experimental condition. This indicates that participants took some time to adjust to the motion. There was no learning effect for the Pan and Zoom, Create Unit, Read Text, and Read Unit tasks in any motion condition (i.e. static, mild or high). However, performance did improve over sessions for the Create Text and the Create Line tasks in the high motion condition. Furthermore, performance improved in the mild motion condition for the Create Text task.

Key conclusions:

  • Under high motion there was greater difficulty in doing typing and drawing tasks than the Pan and Zoom, Read Unit, Read Text, Create Unit tasks
  • Subjects required a number of sessions to adjust to the motion. Thus training in the use of BMS in vehicles should include a motion condition
  • This experiment has identified that it is easier to read rather than enter information under motion. 
  • Further research is required using larger motion levels. These studies will be conducted with the completion of DSTO’s Land Motion Platform (LAMP).

Key information


Omio Abedin, Victor Demczuk and Gregory Judd

Publication number


Publication type

Technical report

Publish Date

October 2012


Unclassified - public release


Battle Management Systems, Motion, Simulators