To develop effective Human-automation/robotic (HAR) systems, NASA requires the development of methods and tools to inform the decisions regarding function allocation between robots and crewmembers that are able to objectively assess the implications of the assignment of these roles for the human-system performance trade space. This research will establish a validated method for the evaluation of function allocation between robots and automated systems and their human crew mates for use in deep space exploration missions. It will further produce computational models of different possible combinations of a three person human crew and various classes of robots for a variety of tasks which can be used as-is for additional analysis or modified for future concepts of operation. The method for function allocation will apply fast-time simulation, which will be validated by ground-based human-in-the-loop experimentation. It may also include human-in-the-loop simulation in an analog environment.
This project uses current-day computational methods to model and simulate the human-robot teams at work. Investigators are expanding on existing methods used in aeronautics to advance the field of computational simulation of function allocation for the improvement of manned space exploration where we encounter additional challenges of agents with differential capabilities, time delay of communication, and the need to represent limitations in resources which might be both physical as well as informational. The capability to simulate how human-robot teams work together will help systems designers understand the interaction between humans and space robotics to allow for robust and effective as well as efficient teamwork across missions and different crew-robot complements. This research also impacts the growing field of human-robot teaming, as robots continue to advance technically and become less like tools for humans and more like peers and teammates.
The research addresses three main research questions:
- How should roles and responsibilities be optimally assigned to robots and humans based on a combination of task demands, robotic capabilities and available crew resources, with special attention to the capabilities inherent to classes of robots?
- What is the human-robot system performance trade-space that serves as the basis for the allocation?
- How can this function allocation method be validated as creating appropriate function allocation for both nominal and off-nominal operations?
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A three year effort is proposed to address these questions. In the first year a model of the function allocation design space that exists between humans and robots in deep space exploration missions will be determined. This will be done using a computational framework called Work Models that Compute (WMC), which allows investigators to model dynamical systems (such as space vehicles and robots), automated systems (such as the automated rendezvous and docking system) and human agents working together to achieve common goals. WMC was custom designed to model function allocation and to measure eight metrics of function allocation previously established by the proposers. In the second year the design space, deeply investigating each metric such as taskload, authority responsibility mismatch, coherency, etc., will be explored, while beginning the validation process through the use of human-in-the-loop experiments with simulated robots. In the final year the combied effects will be explored as the design space constraints, the tasks, crew stress levels and function allocation options are varied. Validation efforts will continued using human-in-the-loop experiments with a combination of simulated robots and/or real robots. These experiments will systematically explore a large number of conditions such that they serve not only to demonstrate the function allocation chosen by the method, but also to validate the method.
This experiment is in progress. Results will be available at a later date.
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: https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/
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for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.