The Effects of Automation Invocation Procedure and Dynamic Display Relocation on Performance in a Multi-Task Environment

Hancock, P.A. (2007). The effects of automation invocation procedure and dynamic display relocation on performance in a multi-task environment. Transaction of the IEEE on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part A: Humans and Systems, 37(1), 47-57.

In this paper, the responses of experienced professional pilots to change in interface configuration and differing automated invocation procedures were examined using a simulated flight-task environment. Performance was evaluated on three subtasks: two-dimensional compensatory tracking; fuel management; and systems monitoring. The status of automation, which was available for tracking and fuel management only, was conveyed by a change in display configuration represented by either a reduction in the size of the relevant display or by a reduction in size accompanied by its displacement to a peripheral spatial location. Combined with these interface-configuration changes were two forms of automation invocation procedure, which were pilot-initiated automation and system-initiated automation. Each was compared to a standard manual-control condition. Results indicated several response asymmetries. While tracking showed no effect for the location of the automated fuel-management display, fuel-management performance did reveal a significant effect, which favored the peripheral location of the automated tracking display. This display-location effect is thought to result from a general requirement for pilots to change their visual-scan pattern. The converse effect does not appear for fuel management and represents the continued primacy given by the pilots to tracking performance. System-initiated automation of fuel management, as a set condition, resulted in significantly better tracking performance, in both mean and variability measures, when compared to pilot-initiated automation. In the converse situation, involving the automation of the tracking subtask, a significant difference was also evident, but only in the variance measure of the fuel management performance. The fuel-management variance for the pilot-initiated automation of tracking was significantly lower than that for the condition where the automation was enacted by the system. These results indicate that the automation-initiation process itself influences subsequent multitask performance. The present results support a general contention that the operator should initiate automation, except in circumstances in which the operator is for some reason incapacitated.

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