The goal of this research was to define a measure of situation awareness (SA) in an air traffic control (ATC) task and to assess the influence of adaptive automation (AA) of various information processing functions on controller perception, comprehension and projection. The measure was also to serve as a basis for defining and developing an approach to triggering dynamic control allocations, as part of AA, based on controller SA. To achieve these objectives, an enhanced version of an ATC simulation (Multitask (copyright)) was developed for use in two human factors experiments. The simulation captured the basic functions of Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) and was capable of presenting to operators four different modes of control, including information acquisition, information analysis, decision making and action implementation automation, as well as a completely manual control mode. The SA measure that was developed as part of the research was based on the Situation Awareness Global Assessment Technique (SAGAT), previous goal-directed task analyses of enroute control and TRACON, and a separate cognitive task analysis on the ATC simulation. The results of the analysis on Multitask were used as a basis for formulating SA queries as part of the SAGAT-based approach to measuring controller SA, which was used in the experiments. A total of 16 subjects were recruited for both experiments. Half the subjects were used in Experiment #1, which focused on assessing the sensitivity and reliability of the SA measurement approach in the ATC simulation. Comparisons were made of manual versus automated control. The remaining subjects were used in the second experiment, which was intended to more completely describe the SA implications of AA applied to specific controller information processing functions, and to describe how the measure could ultimately serve as a trigger of dynamic function allocations in the application of AA to ATC. Comparisons were made of the sensitivity of the SA measure to automation manipulations impacting both higher-order information processing functions, such as information analysis and decision making, versus lower-order functions, including information acquisition and action implementation. All subjects were exposed to all forms of AA of the ATC task and the manual control condition. The approach to AA used in both experiments was to match operator workload, assessed using a secondary task, to dynamic control allocations in the primary task. In total, the subjects in each experiment participated in 10 trials with each lasting between 45 minutes and 1 hour. In both experiments, ATC performance was measured in terms of aircraft cleared, conflicting, and collided. Secondary task (gauge monitoring) performance was assessed in terms of a hit-to-signal ratio. As part of the SA measure, three simulation freezes were conducted during each trial to administer queries on Level 1, 2, and 3 SA.
Air Transportation and Safety