The performance and workload effects of task relocation during automation


We report an experiment which investigated the performance and workloadeffects associated with the functional grouping of automated displays in a multi-task flight simulation. Eleven rated pilots performed tracking, systems monitoring, and target acquisition sub-tasks in manual conditions and when the targetingtask was automated. In the latter condition, the target acquisition display was relocated either proximally, distally, or neutrally with respect to the functionally similar, systems monitoring display. It was hypothesized that an automated taskdisplay relocated near its functional equivalent (the proximal condition) would result in increased performance efficiency and lower perceived workload compared to the other relocationpositions. An advantage for adaptive automation was confirmed with pilots exhibiting less tracking error, lower monitoring response times, lower target response times, and increased percentage of target responses during automated compared with manual conditions. Results did not confirm the hypothesized benefits fordisplay location. However, when interpreted within the Proximity Compatibility Principle framework where both perceptual and processing proximity are recognized, results confirmed an advantage for the functional grouping layout of the display. Specifically, the proximal grouping condition was the only condition that resulted in both performance and workload benefits. Some observations on the implications for displaydesign in systems using automation are provided.

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