About HAL

Humans and Automation Lab

Research in the Humans and Automation Lab (HAL) focuses on the multifaceted interactions of human and computer decision-making in complex sociotechnical systems. 

Mobile Command UnitWith the explosion of automated technology, the need for humans as supervisors of complex automatic control systems has replaced the need for humans in direct manual control.  A consequence of complex, highly automated domains in which the human decision-maker is more on-the-loop than in-the-loop is that the level of required cognition has moved from that of well-rehearsed skill execution and rule following to higher, more abstract levels of knowledge synthesis, judgment, and reasoning. 

Employing human-centered design principles to human supervisory control problems, and identifying ways in which humans and computers can leverage the strengths of the other to achieve superior decisions together is the central focus of HAL. Current research projects include collaborative human-computer decision making for command and control domains, investigating human understanding of multivariable optimization algorithms and visualization of cost (objective functions); the need for bounded collaboration, design of Lunar Lander displays, human supervisory control of multiple heterogeneous unmanned vehicles; collaborative time sensitive targeting; and developing metrics for evaluating display complexity. 

Current research sponsors include the Office of Naval Research, Lincoln Laboratory, Boeing, the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Alstom, Aurora Flight Sciences, the U.S. Army, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.