User Interface Design For Highly Automated Systems

Overcoming the traditional human-automation issues is a challenge that has been addressed by many research works. Design choices like picking the right level of automation (or deciding for an adaptive automation), or correctly distributing roles and tasks between the human and the system etc. are very important decisions that deserve robust foundations in order to “build the system right”. However, what do we do after we have made those choices? How is the automation affecting the real interaction with the operator and how do we cope with that?
Choosing the right level of automation doesn’t guarantee us a sound interaction. Neither the right task allocation does. Failures can happen in the real interactive actions due to poorly designed interfaces.
It is necessary to map the system design choices to the more suitable interaction techniques and user-interface design methods. Moreover, in the recent years, we assisted to a growing maturity of several technologies that are enabling and making accessible new means of interaction.

The objective of this PhD research is to study the impact of higher levels of automation on the HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) of the future air transport system with concern to the SESAR concepts. Human interacting with automation are exposed to a large number of issues. Focusing on some of those specific issues, this research is aiming to generate user-interface design methods that are able to mitigate the problems.

The first part of the research has been dedicated to review the literature identifying the well-known and emerging automation issues in the aviation domain. Afterwards, a case study is developed and analysed. The case study consists in the development of a prototype for the visualization of probabilistic 4D trajectories in the general aviation domain and it’s structured in the following iterative steps
- Collecting User need and capabilities
- Identification of the issues related to the automation and affecting the human side of the system
- Identification of the requirements for features and information visualization
- Prototype development and assessment

Implication for research /expected results
Contribution from this research are expected to come in the following fields: human automation interaction, uncertanty visualization, information visualization. The overall aim is to come up with structured methods and guidelines for the design and development of the user interfaces that are involved in highly automated systems and map those methods with the identified issues.