Pilot Performance and Preference for Cycles of Automation in Adaptive Function Allocation

Scallen, S. F., Duley, J. A., & Hancock, P. A. (1994). Pilot performance and preference for cycles of automation in adaptive function allocation. Human performance in automated systems: Current research and trends, 154-160.

The present experiment examined pilot response to short duration cycles of automation in an adaptive task allocation context. The purpose of the work was to seek acceptable minimal cycle times for automation take-over of sub-tasks in a multi-task environment. We used MINSTAR, a purpose built multi-task environment, which consisted of tracking, fuel management, and monitoring sub-tasks. Six experienced pilots performed the three-part task for nine 5-minute trials. The tracking sub-task cycled between manual and automated control at fixed intervals of 15, 30, and 60 seconds. These cycle types were completely crossed with three levels of tracking difficulty giving the nine within-subject conditions. Performance was measured on each of the three component sub-tasks, while subjective workload, and mental fatigue were also evaluated. Both tracking difficulty and cycle duration had an effect on tracking performance. Tracking efficiency decreased with difficulty level and increasing cycle duration. Fuel management and monitoring sub-tasks appeared to be unaffected by tracking difficulty and automation cycle length. These results are examined in light of the determination of optimal cycle times in complex systems employing adaptive automation in task allocation.

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