Scientist studies how humans interact with drones

Drone (Photo courtesy MGN)

LINCOLN, Neb. — A scientist at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln is studying some cutting-edge technology.

“I’ve always wanted to get my pilot’s license,” said Dr. Brittany Duncan, a scientist and assistant professor at the UNL Computer Science and Engineering department.

She is a pilot. It’s just she flies drones, and also studies them and the relationship between these unmanned devices and people the drones fly around.

“How you’re going to interact with them, what you’re scared of, and how they can communicate with you better,” said Dr. Duncan.

She says all of this is important because whether you like it or not, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself standing right next to one in the check out line in the coming years.

“Walmart wants to use them within stores to do different inventory tracking and package delivery potentially,” said Dr. Duncan.

To find out how people interact with these loud, hovering devices, she has people handle them and a computer record the interactions.

“One of the things I think is really neat is that people kind of intuitively get that it can go up and down, but they think a lot less about what direction it’s pointing in,” said Dr. Duncan.