In This Issue

DoD Human Factors Engineering Technical Advisory Group (HFETAG)

The defense community discusses challenges of human factors in unmanned systems

By Gerald P. Krueger and Stephen C. Merriman

In May 2012, the 67th meeting of the DoD HFE TAG was held in Dayton, Ohio. It was hosted by the U.S. Air Force 711th Human Performance Wing (HPW) at Wright-Patterson AFB. The theme was Meeting the Human Factors Challenges of Future Unmanned Systems. Over 160 attendees included representatives of OSD, Army, Navy, Air Force, NASA, FAA, Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as a collection of technical representatives of professional societies, academia and invited speakers, making this the largest attended TAG ever. CAPT Dylan Schmorrow, USN, Deputy Director of OSD’s Human Performance, Training and Bio- Systems Research Directorate chaired the meeting.

The meeting offered numerous presentations of interest to our Engineering Psychology community – only a few are highlighted here. Maris Vikmanis of the 711th HPW and chair of the Human Systems Community of Interest Working Group provided an overview of Human Systems activities since the early 1990s, a time of “Tactical Decision Making Under Stress.” He indicated the latest Quadrennial Defense Review in identifying Key mission areas as drivers, highlighted several with human behavior implications. Unmanned vehicle development is having a major influence over current R&D, with a goal to move closer to “full autonomy” of unmanned systems. Decision-making is emerging as an important area of investigation and neural science is getting a lot of attention. For human factors psychologists, these areas are primary: physical fitness, cognitive fitness, neural fitness and biological fitness.

The Human Systems Community of Interest (COI) was established in June 2009. It is chaired by Jack Blackhurst of 711th HPW. The COI includes representatives of 17 different DoD, Army, Navy, and Air Force organizations. Its main Human Systems focus areas are: Systems Interfaces; Personnel and Training; Social and Cultural Understanding; and Personnel Protection and Sustainment.

John Tangney (ONR) described the Human Systems Priority Steering Council, established in April 2011, to “enhance human-machine interfaces to increase productivity and effectiveness across a broad range of missions.” In Training the challenges include: validating tools to optimize training, and exploiting the science of learning while developing valid performance measures. Realistic, adaptive and interactive scenario-based training must adapt to individual needs of warfighters in near real-time. In terms of human-machine teaming, we must develop representation and inference frameworks to enable natural language dialogue and employ iterative learning user models via natural, multi -modal interfaces (e.g. gesture, natural language dialogue). Interfaces and decision-support technologies must be designed to help cope with information overload by adapting to or enhancing capabilities of users. Human-centric information systems must deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.

Other topics of interest to engineering psychologists included: MANPRINT applications to Robotic Interface Design; Unmanned Aircraft Networks which depict war as being less about force and more about information, emphasizing Situation Awareness in modern conflict; biometrics technology; cockpit spatial strategies to better orient warfighters tasked with manned or unmanned piloting aircraft, ships, and land vehicles in an attempt to improve performance and to avert aircraft mishaps, inadvertent bomb drops, and collisions at sea; manned control of multiple unmanned aircraft; macro-cognition modeling of decision-making during over-constrained task loads and under information overload conditions; selection of unmanned aerial system (UAS) operators; communication and coordination between UAS and manned aircraft crews; psychological and performance testing of Air Force remotely piloted aircraft pilots; improving UAS performance by understanding the operator; USAFRL’s UAS training research program; a tool for assessing metrics in evaluating nuclear power plant design; a NASA sponsored human factors analysis support tool (H-FAST); and others.

The Human Factors Standardization SubTAG announced that the latest updated HFE standard, MIL-STD-1472G was approved in January 2012 and it is now available on line.

Selected briefings from TAG-67 will be available on the DoD HFE TAG website. The next meeting (TAG-68) will be held Nov. 6 - 10, 2012 at the FAA; Technical Center near Atlantic City, N.J.

Contact: Gerald P. Krueger