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Design and Evaluation of Automated Electronic Checklists for Robotics Operations (NNX15AW35G)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Space Human Factors Engineering
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The investigators aimed to develop a prototype electronic procedure system and use it to study how the automated features of this system should be implemented to enhance situation awareness (SA), operator workload, and task execution in the context of robotic arm operation. Future long-duration, long-distance mission crews will have to operate more independently from the ground and rely more on automated spacecraft systems to support them while executing mission tasks. NASA has relatively little experience designing systems to support this concept of operations so the overall goal was to provide to NASA design guidelines for implementing these automation features in electronic procedures and empirical evidence that demonstrates how the operator and task performance are affected. Investigators used well defined International Space Station (ISS) robotic arm operations as their proxy for future arm or rover operations. They included capabilities in the electronic procedures that are not currently available, such as automatic multi-step execution or verification and control of current robot system states (e.g., arm configuration, camera control).

The primary objective of this project was to provide empirical evidence supporting design guidelines for automated electronic checklists for robotics operations. While planning to use the ISS robotic arm operations as their proxy for general arm or rover operations but they will develop scenarios that test a crew’s ability to operate more autonomously than in ISS operations.

This study had the following two specific aims:

  1. Develop a prototype display for robotics operations that integrated the electronic procedures with the displays for performing robotic tasks. The design process began with a hierarchical task analysis approach to drive out functional and information requirements for the display. Additionally, critical system states were identified using “Object-Process Methodology,” a task modeling approach that extends the task analysis to a computable level. We augmented our prototype design with the capability for automated execution of procedural steps. This prototype was integrated into the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) ISS robotic workstation simulation that has previously been used in several National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) projects.
  2. Perform a human-in-the-loop study that provided empirical evidence about the effects of the prototype system architecture, including varying levels of automation, on task performance, operator situation awareness, and mental workload. The study investigated how the allocation of procedural step execution between human operator and automation affects situation awareness (SA), mental workload, and task performance. Shifting more procedure steps to the automation may ease workload and speed task completion, but may also degrade the operator’s SA and ability to detect and resolve errant conditions. The experiment scenario included interrupting events that required switching between different procedures.

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Task performance and analysis

Mental demand
Physical demand
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

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Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Eric Gallagher
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2014-15 HERO NNJ14ZSA001N