The goal of my research is to present design principles for automation in air traffic control environments. These design principles can be used as guidelines for designing next-generation systems in air traffic control, with higher levels of automation that supports collaboration between humans and automation.
The aviation industry is constantly evolving to cope with more traffic. This means that the next generation of air traffic control is already here; remote towers which control airports several hundred kilometers from where the controller is located, but also more advanced decision support tools and radar functions.
The development is expected to lead to multiple remote towers (one controller controls several different airports at the same time), which increases the pressure to optimize and improve the efficiency. Higher levels of automation will therefore be required. Certain tasks the controller performs in current systems would be automated, leading to a more supervisory role for the controller. However, automation does not mean control is taken from the user, instead allowing the user to delegate authority to the automation, to the extent the user feels comfortable with.
Trust in automation is therefore becoming more relevant in air traffic control. Trust can affect how much we accept automation decisions. If we can’t build systems that we have faith within, can we not build monitoring system at all. Trust in automation is therefore the key to its usefulness.
Until now, automation has been seen as an either-or system. Either the automation has control or the human has control. However, this can lead to a lack of knowledge of what is going on. And if automation fails, the user fails to detect and/or take control. Therefore, it is important the user and automation work together, as a team, and builds information on shared knowledge and expectations. The goal of my research is, therefore, to develop design principles that support this kind of collaboration. The result of this should be a more efficient air traffic management industry, with increased traffic, reduced fuel consumption, reduced workload and also maintain a safe environment.