Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Reducing error in high-risk automated environments

UC researcher looking to reduce error in high-risk automated environments

January 16, 2013

A University of Canterbury (UC) psychology professor is this year looking into improving worker performance in potentially dangerous high risk environments.

UC Associate Professor Deak Helton will be carrying out experiments to see if guided distraction improves operations in such conditions. He is a co-investigator for the Australian Research Council-funded project and is collaborating with the lead investigator Associate Professor Mark Wiggins of Macquarie University in Sydney.

``We’ll also be running tests that can help workers get back on task when something important happens,’’ Professor Helton said today.

``Guided distraction is a secondary task a person carries out during low periods of workload. For example, when an air traffic controller or such has no or low traffic to control, they may do something else to pass the time.

``This could be daydreaming or it could be another external task such as doing a word puzzle or reading. Instead of letting the person do whatever they pick, we will look at getting workers to perform a secondary task that is not too distracting or hard to snap out of. This could provide them with something to fill time that is minimally intrusive or easy to disengage from.’’

When workloads suddenly increased it could be difficult for an operator to re-engage with the primary task, Professor Helton said. The project was seeking to control the demand level of a secondary task so it was not so distracting that it led to poor primary task re-engagement.

The project will investigate whether and potentially how well this approach may work in practice. It has many applications for people like power control operators, air traffic controllers, rail operators and in medical settings such as monitoring critical care patients.

``Think about driving a car as a simple example where the consequences of not paying attention to the primary task when critical events happen are dire. We know that texting, for example, while driving a car is a bad idea,’’ he said

``Why then do people do it? Some people feel they can handle texting while driving the car. The problem with texting is it draws attention away from the primary task of driving and when something happens in the primary task that is critical, like a pedestrian walking in front of a car, the driver needs to urgently switch from the texting to driving.

``We want to find something less distracting but still interesting enough to keep people engaged when the primary task is not so demanding. In the case of driving a car, how do you make the person aware more quickly of the pedestrian? While the example of a motorist may be dramatic this can also happen in many other crucial settings.”

Professor Helton said they were getting input from utility companies on both sides of the Tasman. The project will adopt a novel strategy to assist operators in high-risk automated environments, in order to maintain their performance in low workload situations so to reduce the potential for error.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Warming: Warming Signs From State Of Climate Report

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 'reflect trends of a warming planet' -- says the latest State of the Climate report, launched by U.S. and New Zealand scientists. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Embrace Falling Home Affordability, Says NZIER

Despair over the inability to afford a house is misplaced and should be embraced as an opportunity to invest in more wealth-creating activity, says the principal economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Shamubeel Eaqub. More>>

Productivity Commission: NZ Regulation Not Keeping Pace

New Zealand regulators often have to work with out-of-date legislation, quality checks are under strain, and regulatory workers need better training and development. More>>

ALSO:

Callaghan Innovation: Investment To Help Deepen Innovation Reporting

Callaghan Innovation, the government’s high tech HQ for Kiwi business, is to help deepen New Zealand media coverage of the commercialisation of innovation through an arms-length partnership with independent business news service BusinessDesk. More>>

ALSO:

Tax Credits, Grants: Greens $1Bn R&D Plan

In the Party’s headline economic announcement, the Greens have launched their plan to build a smarter, more innovative economy which has as its centrepiece an additional $1 billion of government investment in research and development (R&D) above current spend, including tax breaks for business. More>>

ALSO:

Inflation: CPI Increases 0.3 Percent In June Quarter

The consumers price index (CPI) rose 0.3 percent in the June 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This follows rises of 0.3 percent the March quarter and 0.1 percent in the December 2013 quarter. More>>

ALSO:

Half Empty: Dairy Product Prices Drop To Lowest Since December 2012

Dairy product prices fell to the lowest level since December 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, paced by whole milk powder and anhydrous milk fat. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news