Mental Load in Monitoring Tasks
In this paragraph I will briefly give the background of the Aviation Safety Research Office at NASA Ames to provide the viewpoint from which I will make the comments that follow. The ASRO has been set up to define operating problems in today’s aviation system and to suggest solutions that can be implemented in a relatively short time; a typical time horizon is of the order of 2–5 years. Part of our organization administers the Aviation Safety Reporting System which solicits incident reports from users (controllers, pilots, etc.). This program is set up to identify situations requiring immediate action, e.g., a new operating quirk of a particular aircraft or class of aircraft; and to identify other problems through the accumulation of incident data, for example, the prevalence of altitude excursions. These data cannot be used to test hypotheses, but they may be used to formulate hypotheses which in turn may be examined by experimental programs. The research section of the ASRO consists of separately identified groups concerned with operational problems (crew procedures, communications, etc.), statistics, and, for want of a better name, behavioral research. The responsibilities of this latter group are to support research in the operational problems area with basic studies leading to models which can be used to predict behavior in the more complex setting. Current topics of interest are Allocation of control between man and automatic systems. Analyzing the effects of different crew procedures on system performance and system reliability.
KeywordsTask Demand Failure Detection Monitoring Task Mental Load Optimal Control Model
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