Sensorial countermeasures for vestibular spatial disorientation

Paillard, Aurore, Quarck, Gaëlle and Denise, Pierre (2014) Sensorial countermeasures for vestibular spatial disorientation. Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine, 85 (5). pp. 563-567. ISSN 0095-6562


Spatial disorientation is defined as an erroneous body orientation perceived by pilots during flights. Limits of the vestibular system provoke frequent spatial disorientation mishaps. Although vestibular spatial disorientation is experienced frequently in aviation, there is no intuitive countermeasure against spatial disorientation mishaps to date. The aim of this review is to describe the current sensorial countermeasures and to examine future leads in sensorial ergonomics for vestibular spatial disorientation. This work reviews: 1) the visual ergonomics, 2) the vestibular countermeasures, 3) the auditory displays, 4) the somatosensory countermeasures, and, finally, 5) the multisensory displays. This review emphasizes the positive aspects of auditory and somatosensory countermeasures as well as multisensory devices. Even if some aspects such as sensory conflict and motion sickness need to be assessed, these countermeasures should be taken into consideration for ergonomics work in the future. However, a recent development in aviation might offer new and better perspectives: unmanned aerial vehicles. Unmanned aerial vehicles aim to go beyond the physiological boundaries of human sensorial systems and would allow for coping with spatial disorientation and motion sickness. Even if research is necessary to improve the interaction between machines and humans, this recent development might be incredibly useful for decreasing or even stopping vestibular spatial disorientation.

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