• The ATLAS Lab at Florida Tech sent in a challenge problem to design a desktop and Virtual Reality (VR) small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Synthetic Task Environment (STE).

  • The ATLAS Lab needed a high cognitive fidelity simulator to facilitate training transfer to real world operations by incorporating a user interface that mimics popular commercial sUAS interfaces and map data from actual sUAS training sites.


  • UAVSIM needed to mimic a modern UAS led rescue mission and also allow for the testing of different interface configurations.

  • Collect situation awareness and performance data.


  • Students designed the VR and desktop STE using Unreal Engine

  • Blender was utilized for 3D modeling of the UAV, Gimp was used to create icons, and satellite imagery was utilized as a blueprint to recreate real world locations.


  • The simulator was designed to be utilized on a single-monitor, dual-monitor, and VR headset configuration in two interface modes:

    • Traditional operation in which the environmental view is presented separate from a heads-down display of the vehicle parameters (such as with a tablet-based controller).

    • Heads-up display of vehicle parameters overlaid on the environmental view.

  • UAVSIM was developed to be flexible, reconfigurable and support various training and research needs. The simulation includes easy customization of types and difficulties of missions.

  • UAVSIM has integrated data collection tools such as performance tracking, event timestamping, and situation awareness assessment queries.

  • UAVSIM was tested with local first responders and utilized in an experiment examining the impact of heads-up vs. heads-down display configuration on situation awareness.


  • Future work will recreate the simulated task in real-world operations utilizing AR glasses to validate UAVSIM as a testbed for sUAS research and training.

  • Future development will include:

    • Terrain and mission parameters to support ocean rescue and fire inspection scenarios.

    • Multi-UAV operations.

    • sUAS mission planning technologies.