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Advanced Marine Vehicle Design The Human-Machine Interface By Jonathan M. Ross, P.E. As crews dwindle to ever smaller sizes on advanced marine vehicles (AMVs), the need for a truly effective interface between craft and operator ascends to the level of critical importance. The designer must consider automation, controls, instrumentation, seating, and arrangements with the same attention as hullform and engine power. The following paragraphs describe key elements of the human-machine interface, along with their problems and opportunities for enhancement. Automation AMVs are highly automated. Operating an AMV is often compared to flying an airplane, and indeed there are numerous concerns shared between AMV operators and airline pilots. In a study for the Federal Aviation Administration, pilots reported the following as their top 10 flight deck automation issues (Funk 2000): · Pilots may not understand the structure and function of automation, of automation devices · The behavior of automation devices may not be apparent · Pilots may become complacent because they are overconfident in and uncritical of automation · Display [design] may cause important information to be missed or misinterpreted · Training may be inadequate · Pilots may misuse automation · Automation may be too complex · Automation may perform in ways that are unintended · Important information that could be displayed by automation is not displayed · Pilots may lose psychomotor and cognitive skills required for flying manually. These issues could just as well have been written by AMV operators, and the consequences are the same: automation can lead to ineffective and unsafe conditions. Concrete strategies for enhancing automation include the following (Dzindolet 2001, Eilbert 2001, Guerlain 2001, Malone 2001a, Wickens 1997): · Ensure that the automated system provides clear, easily interpreted, coherent, information to the operator, especially for unexpected and emergency conditions · Keep the operator in the informa- tion loop (e.g., keep the bridge operator informed of an autopilot rudder command and also provide a positive indication of the actual rudder position) · Ensure the operator is ultimately in control (e.g., has the ability to override an autopilot and take manual control of the helm) · Keep operator limitations in mind (e.g., so that a fatigued individual can effectively operate the system, even though not at an optimal level) · Keep automation limitations in mind (e.g., in complex systems, the automation may provide the user with unsafe answers or indications; in these cases, a manual back-up or alternative is better) The Sea Fighter (X-Craft) below and the controls on the bridge of the Sea Fighter. (Photo: US Navy) 44 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News