People make systems safer

Automation contributes to safer and more efficient traffic, but brings new risks with it. Jonas Lundberg, associate professor at the Division for Media and Information Technology, is leading a four-year research project intended to contribute to better and more efficient education for maritime pilots and flight controllers.    

Flygledartornet i Norrköping

Flygledartornet i Norrköping 2016For the foreseeable future, people will remain the final line of defence in automated systems. They must go in and take over control when an automatic system fails. This means, however, that an operator, flight controller or maritime pilot must have thorough knowledge of how the automatic systems work, the data on which these systems base their decisions, and how the results are displayed.

Partners in Reskill

In the four-year research project Reskill, researchers at the Division for Media and Information Technology, Campus Norrköping, together with personnel from the Swedish air navigation service provider (LFV) and the Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA), are to develop a concept that strengthens the education of primarily flight controllers and maritime pilots. Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions is an industrial partner in the project, and a PhD student will be working at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg.

It is already possible for a flight controller to manage traffic at an airport remotely through monitors and automatic systems. This is the case in, for example, Sundsvall and Örnsköldsvik, in the northern part of Sweden..

“It is important that we can educate people and offer further education for automation. We need effective training programmes in which we can ensure in an objective manner that the individual will be able to cope with the tasks. People, in our case air flight controllers, have an important role to play in our safety systems,” says Billy Josefsson, manager of the Automation and Human Performance department at LFV.

In a similar way, a maritime pilot must be able to guide many different types of vessel, each one with its own automated system, through sensitive waters.

Simulator för lotsar i projektet ReskillSimulator för lotsar i projektet Reskill“It’s important that our maritime pilots keep up-to-date, and that we keep up with technical developments. These are towards increasingly automated systems,” says Lennart Forsström, head of the piloting business area at SMA.

Using several methods

In the initial stage of the project, researchers will study how flight controllers and maritime pilots currently work. What do they focus their attention on, and how do they react to various signals from the automatic systems? Tests will be carried out in live situations and on the simulators used for training at, for example, Malmö Airport and the Port of Gothenburg. Advanced simulators are to be installed also at the LiU Campus Norrköping, one for air traffic control and another that reproduces the bridge of a vessel, used in the training of maritime pilots.

The researchers plan to use several methods, from eye tracking and monitoring levels of stress to studies of behaviour. Conclusions about how operators create a correct picture of the situation with the aid of currently available computer support will also be visualised and integrated into the simulator. The visualisation will also provide support for instructors.

The final step of the project will be to evaluate the degree to which visualisation makes it easier for operators to understand accurately what is happening, such that they can act on this understanding.

“The research in the project is a combination of several fields, such as behavioural research, visualisation, interaction design and data mining (finding what is important in huge amounts of data),” Jonas Lundberg concludes.

Reskill is financed from resources assigned by the Swedish Transport Administration for research and innovation, through LFV and SMA.

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