Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Psychology Student Finds Less Automation Better for Air Traffic Controllers

19.10.2009
With the nation’s air traffic expected to double by 2025, controllers will probably have to depend more and more on automation. But too much automation could lead to fatal mistakes when that automation fails, a former Texas Tech University psychology student discovered.

The Joint Planning and Development Office, consisting of organizations such as NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense, is developing initiatives to help controllers handle increased air traffic that include more automation, said Arathi Sethumadhavan, who recently earned a doctorate degree from the Department of Psychology.

“Fully automated systems are not always desirable because they tend to leave the controller out of the decision-making loop,” Sethumadhavan said. “The controllers tend to become overly reliant on the automation, so that when it fails, it’s hard for the operator to take back control. The key is to find the right level and type of automation that benefits the controller and still keeps the controller in the decision-making loop.”

To help answer the question, Sethumadhavan trained 72 subjects to use a simple air traffic control simulator with four levels of automation. She found that controllers with more automation built into their systems were less able to detect collisions in their airspace when the systems failed than those who had less automation.

Her work, titled Effects of Automation Types on Air Traffic Controller Situation Awareness, was published in the 2009 Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. She will present her findings during the society’s annual meeting Oct. 19-23.

Her research was funded by the American Psychological Foundation and the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology.

In one group, color-coded altitudes aided controllers, while a second group’s automated system highlighted possible collisions in the airspace. The third group’s automated system provided recommendations to avoid the possible collisions. The fourth group’s system automatically resolved potential collisions between aircraft.

When the simulation froze at random times, the controllers were asked to recreate aircraft location, altitude, heading, destination, and call sign from memory to determine their situation awareness. The first group with only the color-coded altitudes to assist them was able to recreate their screens far better than the other three groups who had more automated programming.

“The first group had higher situation awareness far beyond those who had higher levels of automation,” she said. “I thought exposure to one automation failure would make the controllers more cautious. So, I made them complete another scenario in which the automation failed. What was shocking was that even after exposure to a failure in the automation, the groups with higher levels of automation continued to have lower situation awareness and were slower to detect a subsequent failure in the automation.

“Automation technology has clear benefits when it functions correctly. But no system is 100 percent reliable. The trick to designing future air traffic automation systems will depend on coming up with the right level and types of automation. Psychology can help make these systems more user-friendly and more interactive to protect against over-reliance.”

Pat DeLucia, professor of psychology, sat on Sethumadhavan’s dissertation committee. She said it holds important information for designers who will implement plans for the next generation of air traffic control operations.

“We know that automation can lead to less ability to recover after a system failure,” DeLucia said. “But Arathi’s dissertation goes deeper and looks into situational awareness with varying degrees of automation. Overall, her work could have the potential to influence the next generation of air transportation systems.”

Sethumadhavan recently was selected as the recipient of the George E. Briggs Dissertation Award from Division 21 of the American Psychological Association for superior dissertation work in the field of applied experimental/engineering psychology. She will receive the award and present her dissertation work at the 2010 APA convention in San Diego.

CONTACT: Arathi Sethumadhavan, former doctoral student, Texas Tech University, (806) 787-6589, or arathisethumadhavan@gmail.com; Pat DeLucia, professor of psychology, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3711 ext. 259, or pat.delucia@ttu.edu

John Davis | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ttu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Hunting pathogens at full force
22.03.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

nachricht A 155 carat diamond with 92 mm diameter
22.03.2017 | Universität Augsburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean -- and cold

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers hazard a ride in a 'drifting carousel' to understand pulsating stars

22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New gel-like coating beefs up the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries

22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>