Human Centric Automation

Human-centered automation is a term used to characterize the use of automation technologies (e. g., intelligent aids, displays, warning devices) to enhance the capabilities and compensate for the limitations of human operators responsible for the safety and effectiveness of complex dynamic systems.

The purpose of Human Centric Automation is not necessarily to automate previously manual functions, but rather to enhance user effectiveness and reduce error.

Human-centered automation makes assumptions about the decision agents in systems where control combines human and machine agents. Machine agents are knowledge-based systems with both strengths and weaknesses. Since they are computers, machine agents can be expected to act in timely, consistent ways; machine agents do not get distracted or tired. Given the limits of machine intelligence, however, machine agents have very fragile intelligence.

Human agents are responsible for identifying and compensating for the limitations of the machine agents. Thus, it is important that design supports the operator’s awareness of both the current system state as well as the states of the machine agents, to ensure that both sets of agents are operating in complementary modes.

First, we present a philosophy of human-centered automation. Next, a set of engineering design tenets for human-centered automation is proposed. 

The methodology includes a model that structures the interaction of human operators with complex dynamic systems and the use of the model to (1) specify the allocation of control functions between human and computer-based controllers; (2) design and control (in real-time) ‘intelligent’ displays; and (3) define and implement the ‘intelligence’ for operator assistants and intelligent tutors.

During World War II, military and industrial leaders were employing even more detailed management strategies, eventually leading to more standardized processes like the critical path method.

By the early 20th century, Frederick Taylor applied concepts of project management to the work day, developing strategies for working smarter and improving inefficiencies, rather than demanding laborers work harder and longer. Henry Gantt, an associate of Taylor’s, took those concepts and used bars and charts to graph when certain tasks, or a series of tasks were completed, creating a new way to visualize project management.

What are the Stages of Project Management?

Stage 1: Inspiration: the first stage of design, your goal is to understand your customers on a more human level. Clearly articulate the problem you’re trying to solve, without being too narrow or too broad.  it helps you define your scope, organize your thinking, and start out on the right foot. Then, create a project plan and build your team.

Build a cross-disciplinary team that combines technical know-how and industry expertise with new ideas and fresh perspectives. You may be surprised by how much an unexpected team member, like a graphic designer, has to contribute. You can also try a method in which you enlist your customers to do some of the research themselves and document their own findings. Equip your customers with whatever resources they might need to do this and offer support throughout the observation and reporting process.

Stage 2: Ideation: Ideation involves making sense of what you’ve heard, generating ideas, identifying design opportunities, and testing out potential solutions. Have team members sit in a circle and share their insights, recording them on post-it notes that are clustered on a large poster board or wall. Include inspiring stories, or other research that seemed to “stick” with you throughout the first stage. This helps you begin to prioritize, strategize, and uncover hidden insights. After your team has done this, identify emerging patterns. Based on your design opportunities, brainstorm possible solutions – generate as many ideas as possible. To make sense of your data, it can be helpful to create frameworks to visually represent the information, highlight relationships, and guide your strategy.

Stage 3: Implementation: This stage is where the rubber meets the road and you finally bring your product to market. Some startups find it helpful, to begin with, live prototyping or running their solution for a couple of weeks in the real world. That way, they can test out a particular part of their product Some startups have the resources to conduct a longer-term pilot that allows them to collect critical feedback and key business metrics. Other companies will go straight to building a roadmap, or a plan of action to get their product launched. As part of this timeline, identify the key milestones and then break each down into sizeable chunks with action items and owners. Conduct a resource assessment to determine if you have the capabilities you need to really execute your plan.