Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Kaber, David B.

Committee Member

Brown, Larry G.

Committee Member

Usher, John

Committee Member

Draper, John V.

Committee Member

Jonkman, Jeffery N.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Industrial Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Engineering


Department of Industrial Engineering


Telepresence is defined as the sensation of being present at a remote robot task site while physically present at a local control station. This concept has received substantial attention in the recent past as a result of hypothesized benefits of "presence" experiences on human task performance with teleoperation systems. Human factors research, however, has made little progress in establishing a relationship between the concept of telepresence and teleoperator performance. This has been attributed to the multidimensional nature of telepresence, the lack of appropriate studies to elucidate this relationship, and the lack of a valid and reliable, objective measure of telepresence. Subjective measures (e.g., questionnaires, rating scales) are most commonly used to measure telepresence. Objective measures have been proposed, including behavioral responses to stimuli presented in virtual worlds (e.g. ducking virtual objects). Other research has suggested use of physiological measures, such as cardiovascular responses to indicate the extent of telepresence experiences in teleoperation tasks. The objective of the present study was to assess the utility of using measures of attention allocation and situation awareness (SA) to objectively describe telepresence. Attention and SA have been identified as cognitive constructs potentially underlying telepresence experiences. Participants in this study performed a virtual mine neutralization task involving remote control of a simulated robotic rover and integrated tools to locate, uncover, and dispose of mines. Subjects simultaneously completed two secondary tasks that required them to monitor for "low battery" signals associated with operation of the vehicle and controls. Subjects were divided into three groups of eight according to task difficulty, which was manipulated by varying the number, and spacing, of mines in the task environment. Performance was measured as average time to neutralize four mines. Telepresence was assessed using a "Presence" questionnaire. Situation awareness was measured using the Situation Awareness Global Assessment Technique. Attention was measured as a ratio of the number of ?low battery" signal detections to the total number of signals presented through the secondary task displays. Analysis of variance results revealed level of difficulty to significantly affect performance time and telepresence. Regression analysis revealed level of difficulty, immersive tendencies, and attention to explain significant portions of the variance in telepresence.