The story of the Northwest pilots who overshot their destination because they were paying more attention to their laptops than to their flying brings up many questions about the way humans interact with automated systems. If the pilots didn’t have an auto-pilot setting, would this mistake have happened?
Raja Parasuraman, professor of psychology at George Mason University, has been studying human performance in human-machine systems, particularly the role of human attention, memory and vigilance in automated and robotic systems. His research lab has been investigating pilot and air-traffic controller performance with advanced automation.
“There have been many automation-related incidents lately,” says Parasuraman. “It can be dangerous when people tune out when using these systems.”
Parasuraman was quoted by the Washington Post earlier this year after a Metro car accident that killed nine and injured more than 80 people. He believes that automated systems should be designed to enhance the performance of human operators, and not supplement their tasks and duties.
Parasuraman is director of the Graduate Program in Human Factors and Applied Cognition. He served as a member of the National Research Council’s Panel on Human Factors in Air-Traffic Control Automation from 1994 to 1998. He is on the editorial board of several journals, including Ergonomics, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied and Human Factors.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Parasuraman, please contact Tara Laskowski at 703-993-8815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.