Date of Award

12-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Industrial Engineering

Advisor

Gramopadhye, Anand K

Committee Member

Greenstein , Joel S

Committee Member

Dichowski , Andrew T

Committee Member

Toler , Joe

Abstract

Increased emphasis on aircraft inspection to ensure aviation safety has resulted in the need for a better trained workforce of aircraft maintenance personnel. Aircraft inspection is mostly visual in nature. Thus it has led to the development of computer simulators to train human inspectors performing the inspection task. However, the lack of immersion and interaction in such simulators has led to limited effectiveness and adoption. Using advances in graphics and virtual reality technology, there is an increase the sense of involvement in using these simulators. Though technology is available to provide higher levels of immersion, it is expensive. It is not very clear if the higher fidelity in virtual reality simulators translate to an increase in the effectiveness of training. This research explores the effect of fidelity on presence, perception and performance applied to the development of virtual reality aircraft inspection simulators.
Initially, training simulators are developed at varying levels of fidelity using an iterative process evaluating different interfaces. A transfer effects study evaluating the effectiveness of the VR training provided at varying levels of fidelity is conducted. This research compares the performance of VR trained novice inspectors in an actual aircraft inspection task to the performance of novice inspectors receiving traditional classroom training. Eight different implementations of the training simulators derived by combining two levels of graphic realism with four levels of display interfaces are then evaluated on task performance measures, situation awareness and subjective measures of presence and workload.

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