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A comparison of adaptive and adaptable automation under different levels of environmental stress

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The effectiveness of different forms of adaptive and adaptable automation was examined under low- and high-stress conditions, in the form of different levels of noise. Thirty-six participants were assigned to one of the three types of variable automation (adaptive event-based, adaptive performance-based and adaptable serving as a control condition). Participants received 3 h of training on a simulation of a highly automated process control task and were subsequently tested during a 4-h session under noise exposure and quiet conditions. The results for performance suggested no clear benefits of one automation control mode over the other two. However, it emerged that participants under adaptable automation adopted a more active system management strategy and reported higher levels of self-confidence than in the two adaptive control modes. Furthermore, the results showed higher levels of perceived workload, fatigue and anxiety for performance-based adaptive automation control than the other two modes.

Practitioner Summary: This study compared two forms of adaptive automation (where the automated system flexibly allocates tasks between human and machine) with adaptable automation (where the human allocates the tasks). The adaptable mode showed marginal advantages. This is of relevance, given that this automation mode may also be easier to design.
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Keywords: adaptable automation; adaptive automation; performance; stress

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology,University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland 2: Nottingham University Business School, Nottingham, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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