An Experimental Investigation of the Effect of Target Motion on Visual Detection

by Doris J. Dugas, H. E. Petersen

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Reports an experiment comparing the detection probabilities for moving targets against complex backgrounds; compares the results to the Bailey model for detection of static targets in random search (see RM-6158/1); and extends that model to cover moving targets by modifying Bailey's glimpse-aperture factor to reflect the fact that a moving target is 2 to 8 times as easily found as a static one. For an aerial-photograph background, the improvement was about 4 times. In the experiment, seven subjects viewed a television display of an artificial, electronically generated target at two speeds against an aerial photo of wooded terrain, against felt, and against a grid. Results suggest — but do not prove — that it is not the motion itself that improves detection performance, but the contrast changes that occur as the target moves over a complex background.

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