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The experiments discussed in this article addressed the influence of part-task automation on operator performance, workload, and fatigue in a multitask environment. The overall task environment included tracking, resource management, and multiple monitoring subtasks. Slower, more accurate monitoring and better resource management were observed when the tracking subtask was automated. Although lower workload was reported when tracking was automated, fatigue increased equally during periods of manual and automatic tracking. When participants could control workload by shifting between manual and automatic tracking, participants with 7 hr of training switched between automatic and manual tracking. Their performance during optional automation periods was superior to their performance in conditions in which only manual control or only automated control was available. The findings argue for the utility of discretionary control of automated systems.
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