On waveform analysis, the adaptive task technique, and the effect of vibration on manual control skill

  • G.D. Whitehead

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A re-examination of fundamental concepts and a formal structuring of the waveform analysis problem is presented in Part I. eg. the nature of frequency is examined and a novel alternative to the classical methods of detection proposed and implemented which has the advantage of speed and independence from amplitude. Waveform analysis provides the link between Parts I and II. Part II is devoted to Human Factors and the Adaptive Task Technique. The Historical, Technical and Intellectual development of the technique is traced in a review which examines the evidence of its advantages relative to non-adaptive fixed task methods of training, skill assessment and man-machine optimisation. A second review examines research evidence on the effect of vibration on manual control ability. Findings are presented in terms of percentage increment or decrement in performance relative to performance without vibration in the range 0-0.6Rms'g'. Primary task performance was found to vary by as much as 90% between tasks at the same Rms'g'. Differences in task difficulty accounted for this difference. Within tasks vibration-added-difficulty accounted for the effects of vibration intensity. Secondary tasks were found to be largely insensitive to vibration except secondaries which involved fine manual adjustment of minor controls.
Three experiments are reported next in which an adaptive technique was used to measure the % task difficulty added by vertical random and sinusoidal vibration to a 'Critical Compensatory Tracking task. At vibration intensities between 0 - 0.09 Rms 'g' it was found that random vibration added (24.5 x Rms'g')/7.4 x 100% to the difficulty of the control task. An equivalence relationship between Random and Sinusoidal vibration effects was established based upon added task difficulty. Waveform Analyses which were applied to the experimental data served to validate Phase Plane analysis and uncovered the development of a control and possibly a vibration isolation strategy. The submission ends with an
appraisal of subjects mentioned in the thesis title.
Date of AwardDec 1972
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorProfessor W. T. Singleton (Supervisor)


  • waveform analysis
  • adaptive task technique
  • manual control skill
  • effect of vibration

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