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Prototype Spatial Auditory Display for Remote Planetary Exploration

During Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA), astronauts must maintain situational awareness (SA) of a number of spatially distributed "entities" such as other team members (human and robotic), rovers, and a lander/habitat or other safe havens. These entities are often outside the immediate field of view and visual resources are needed for other task demands. Recent work at NASA Ames has focused on experimental evaluation of a spatial audio augmented-reality display for tele-robotic planetary exploration on Mars. Studies compared response time and accuracy performance with different types of displays for aiding orientation during exploration: a spatial auditory orientation aid, a 2-D visual orientation aid, and a combined auditory-visual orientation aid under a number of degraded vs. nondegraded visual conditions. The data support the hypothesis that the presence of spatial auditory cueing enhances performance compared to a 2-D visual aid, particularly under degraded visual conditions.

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