Warfighter-in-the-loop: Mental models in airborne minefield detection

Madhu Reddy*, Sanjeev Agarwal, Richard Hall, John Brown, Thomas Woodard, Anh Trang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The warfighter analyst in the data processing ground control station plays an integral role in airborne minefield detection system. This warfighter-in-the-loop (WIL) is expected to reduce the minefield false alarm rate by a factor of 5. In order to achieve such a significant false alarm reduction and to facilitate the development of an efficient WIL interface, it is critical to evaluate different aspects of WIL operations for airborne minefield detection. Recently, researchers at the University of Missouri - Rolla have developed a graphical user interface (HILMFgui) application using MATLAB to evaluate minefield detection performance for the operator. We conducted a series of controlled experiments with HILMFgui using ten participants. In these experiments, we video-recorded all the experiments and conducted post-experiment interviews to learn more about the usability of the interface and the cognitive processes involved in minefield detection. The effect of various factors including the availability of automatic target recognition (ATR), availability of zoom and time constraints were considered to evaluate their influence on operator performance. Qualitative results of the factors affecting the warfighter performance in the minefield detection loop are discussed. Through the qualitative data analysis, we observed two different types of participants (classified here as aggressive and cautious). We also identified three primary types of mental models: mine centric, mine-field centric, and logical placement. Those who used a primarily mine focus had a substantially higher false alarm rate than those whose mental models were more consistent with a mine-field centric or logical placement perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109
Pages (from-to)1050-1059
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue numberPART II
StatePublished - 2005
EventDetection and Remediation Technologies for Mines and Minelike Targets X - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: Mar 28 2005Apr 1 2005


  • Airborne minefield detection
  • Human factors
  • Mental models
  • Qualitative evaluation
  • Target detection
  • Warfighter-in-the-loop

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Warfighter-in-the-loop: Mental models in airborne minefield detection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this