Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Aerospace Engineering Sciences

First Advisor

Nisar Ahmed

Second Advisor

Eric Frew

Third Advisor

Brian Argrow

Fourth Advisor

Dale Lawrence


Autonomous systems employ many layers of approximations in order to operate in increasingly uncertain and unstructured environments. The complexity of these systems makes it hard for a user to understand the systems capabilities, especially if the user is not an expert. However, if autonomous systems are to be used efficiently, their users must trust them appropriately. This purpose of this work is to implement and assess an 'assurance' that an autonomous system can provide to the user to elicit appropriate trust. Specifically, the autonomous system's perception of its own capabilities is reported to the user as the self-confidence assurance. The self-confidence assurance should allow the user to more quickly and accurately assess the autonomous system's capabilities, generating appropriate trust in the autonomous system.

First, this research defines self-confidence and discusses what the self-confidence assurance is attempting to communicate to the user. Then it provides a framework for computing the autonomous system's self-confidence as a function of self-confidence factors which correspond to individual elements in the autonomous system's process. In order to explore this idea, self-confidence is implemented on an autonomous system that uses a mixed observability Markov decision process model to solve a pursuit-evasion problem on a road network. The implementation of a factor assessing the goodness of the autonomy's expected performance is focused on in particular. This work highlights some of the issues and considerations in the design of appropriate metrics for the self-confidence factors, and provides the basis for future research for computing self-confidence in autonomous systems.