Physiological and cognitive real-time stress analysis as a basis for optimised human-machine teaming and safe decision processes for military forces

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Conference Proceedings
Authors: Alexander AlmerAnna WeberFlorian HaidJulia TschudenLucas PalettaMichael SchneebergerDietmar WallnerPaul GlanzPhilip KlöcklDominik EderGerald BauerOliver KührThomas Hölzl

Abstract: Introduction In recent decades, the development of autonomous cyber-physical systems for a wide range of tasks has been the focus of research activities for military organisations. Modern security forces can be seen as socio-technical systems. Only an integrated approach, in which people, organisation and technology are viewed as interlocking elements, enables the optimisation of the overall system. Soldiers are still at the center of deployed sociotechnical systems despite major innovations in the field of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (Swiss, 2020). An efficient and coordinated interaction in a task force and an optimised human-machine teaming are essential prerequisites for a successful operation and thus also for increasing the safety of the soldiers in critical operational situations. This requires, on the one hand, optimal HMI development, but also, on the other hand, information about the mental and physical state of the soldier to provide improved decision processes and operational performance. Information on a common operational picture and the status of the technical systems used is usually available, but not the psychophysical situation of the soldier. Therefore extensive development projects have been launched for solutions of psycho-physiological monitoring, with new possibilities arising from innovative developments in the field of bio-sensor technology. The aim is to optimise human performance in the field and the interaction between man and machine with highly sophisticated mission equipment. An important success factor in complex operations is the quality of the necessary decisions (decision intelligence) in time-critical security situations, whereby the current psychophysical stress state of the person is a decisive factor. Therefore, an ongoing challenge for the military task forces is managing personnel to optimise and sustain performance, improve security while also ensuring health and wellbeing. In the course of intensive training and exercises as well as in real operational scenarios, soldiers often suffer physiological and psychological borderline stresses and injuries during physical and combat-related training. In this context efficient solutions for the physiological monitoring of soldiers based on the integration of innovative biosensor technology and specific load models considering load characteristics of different military forces will enable a targeted support.Motivation and Background The challenging military work tasks are often associated with a high degree of physical stress and require a high level of mental performance and concentration. Reduced concentration and reaction cause delayed or possibly even wrong decisions, which can have critical consequences. In this context a real-time system for physiological status monitoring (RT-PSM) offers new opportunities for military purpose with individual assessment of soldiers' performance limits. However, most commercially available health and performance sport systems do not meet the relevant military requirements. They typically lack validated methods and algorithms to derive essential information in real time and are not designed to be integrated into soldier's technological ecology (Friedl, 2018). Based on the specific requirements and the experience of the Austrian Armed Forces, an RT-PSM was developed as part of the VitalMonitor project and geared to the working conditions and multifactorial stress situations of CBRN defence personnel and light infantry forces. The main objectives were to analyze the individual stress in deployment scenarios and to achieve a targeted improvement in the individual performance level through personalized adaptive training concepts and thus to optimize the health and fitness of the individual soldier. The research project VitalMonitor therefore focuses on the development of a (I) real-time monitoring system, which analyses changes in physiological parameters from heart rate, heart rate variability, skin conductance, core body temperature, etc., (II) development of a stress model considering load characteristics of different military forces, (III) communication solution for a real-time data transfer, (IV) data management and interactive real-time visualization module to support decision processes for mission commanders to determine optimal work-rest-cycles preventing physical overstraining in trainings and missions and (V) an expert interface to visualize sensor data streams (low-level data) together with model-based analysis results (high-level data) in a graphical interface as a basis for model development, verification and optimization.This paper gives an overview of the main developments and results implemented and achieved within the VitalMonitor project. In the following, wearable sensors and their evaluation, the development of a specific load model, the real-time visualization modules and finally a conclusion and outlook will be presented.

Keywords: Real-Time Physiological Stress Monitoring, Wearable Biosensors, Military Training, Smart Textiles, Specific Load, Stress Modelling

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1004151

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