Engineering Control Human Performance Tool to Enhance Situational Awareness

Period of Performance: 11/12/2003 - 11/12/2005


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Micro Analysis and Design, Inc.
4949 Pearl East Circle, Suite 300
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator


Reductions in crew sizes and the increased use of autonomous machinery control have caused the crewmember to become more of a supervisory controller, where a computer makes complex transformations on system data to produce integrated (chunked) displays for the human, or retransforms crewmember commands to generate detailed control actions. In this environment, it is critical for humans to know how and when to intervene. When humans do not attend to the information display or fail to recognize that status changes shown in the display require intervention, or when cognitive workload is so high that they miss a critical signal, they are not maintaining adequate situational awareness. Therefore, it is imperative to evaluate display/controller interaction to determine whether the human can reasonably maintain adequate situational awareness to prevent omissions and errors. This project will result in the development of a tool that can be used by HSI professionals to identify tasks that have a high potential for human overload and error. The proposed tool can be iteratively used to design and evaluate the interfaces that provide information in shipboard supervisory control systems to maximize the probability that the operator will maintain adequate situational awareness and respond appropriately. The issues that are currently driving the acquisition of military and commercial hardware systems are those that revolve around personnel costs, system performance, and safety. Designers and manufacturers of advanced commercial systems must respond to the pressure to be more cost effective without sacrificing efficiency and safety. The proposed software tool will advance the state of the art in human systems integration technology because information about the ability of sailors to detect, process, and comprehend information presented in complex displays will be used to impact system design. This will result in a more effective force under today's reality of the shift from being an engineer/operator to having supervisory control over multiple autonomous systems. This product will assist human systems integration (HSI) professionals in designing and assessing complex tasks in any system that includes human components, so long as constructive representations of the system and environment exist or can be developed. Examples include: nuclear power plants, air traffic control, air- and space-craft, space mission control, metropolitan emergency management, and police command and control units.