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Human–automation interaction for multiple robot control: the effect of varying automation assistance and individual differences on operator performance

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In a human–automation interaction study, automation assistance level (AL) was investigated for its effects on operator performance in a dynamic, multi-tasking environment. Participants supervised a convoy of manned and unmanned vehicles traversing a simulated environment in three AL conditions, while maintaining situation awareness and identifying targets. Operators’ situation awareness, target detection performance, workload and individual differences were evaluated. Results show increasing AL generally improved task performance and decreased perceived workload, however, differential effects due to operator spatial ability and perceived attentional control were found. Eye-tracking measures were useful in parsing out individual differences that subjective measures did not detect. At the highest AL, participants demonstrated potentially complacent behaviour, indicating task disengagement.

Practitioner Summary: The effect of varying automation assistance level (AL) on operator performance on multiple tasks were examined in a within-subjects experiment. Findings indicated a moderate AL improved performance, while higher levels encouraged complacent behaviour. Effects due to individual differences suggest that effective AL depends on the underlying characteristics of the operator.
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Keywords: Human–automation interaction; eye-tracking; individual differences; multi-tasking; situation awareness; supervisory control; workload

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Orlando, FL, USA 2: U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Ft. Huachuca, AZ, USA

Publication date: August 3, 2018

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