December 9, 2016
The current human factors research literature includes a broad range of models of human-automation interaction (HAI) in complex systems. One class of models has focused on identifying the possible space of types and levels of automation (LOAs) for systems design and projecting implications on human performance, workload and situation awareness. The advent of new advanced technologies for public use has led to broader interest in the concept of LOAs. Some have suggested that this approach has missed key issues for advancing human-in-the loop automated systems design, such as the dynamics of interaction; whereas, others are simply unsatisfied with the current state of models. I summarize some of the issues with existing definitions of LOAs, specifically consideration of presumptive concepts of human behavior and imprecision in defining behavioral constructs for assessment of automation. I propose some steps for advancing the class of models. I also provide empirical evidence to motivate the need to address the issues of precision in defining human behaviors in use of automation as well as a need for descriptive models of human performance under LOAs. In addition, I provide a brief survey of some other classes of HAI models that offer insights into ways to achieve descriptive formulations of taxonomies of LOAs to better support conceptual and detailed automated systems design.
David Kaber is a Distinguished Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and an associate faculty member in Biomedical Engineering and Psychology. He is Director of Research for the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina and a NIOSH-sponsored Occupational Safety and Ergonomics education and research program at NC State. His current research interests include virtual reality simulation design for motor task learning, human performance and workload management in multitasking with cognitive and physical demands, and electronic medical record design for usability. Kaber received his PhD from Texas Tech University in 1996. He is a fellow of the Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers and the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society.