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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Draper Fellow Honored for Lunar Landing Human-Machine Interface Research

The New England Chapter of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society honored Hui-Ying Wen, a Draper Laboratory Fellow, for her research into a simulation framework that could be used to evaluate options for automating tasks or assigning them to the onboard crew in future lunar landing missions.

Engineers generally incorporate automation into cockpit systems designs based on what has worked in the past, or what users specifically desire. Wen’s simulation framework would enable engineers to examine the benefits of various levels of automation early in the design process.

While Wen’s research addresses the issue of automation in the context of lunar landing, the simulation concept could be applied to other missions in space and other domains where humans need to work with complex systems.

Wen is scheduled to complete her Master’s Degree in aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the spring. She plans to conduct experiments with human subjects to validate aspects of the simulation framework as part of her thesis.

“As systems become more advanced, more and more tasks can be automated, which gives us the opportunity to determine who the task is allocated to,” said Kevin Duda, principal investigator on the project and Wen’s supervisor at Draper. “Hui-Ying’s work is providing a quantitative methodology for this to ensure humans and complex systems work collaboratively to accomplish the mission objectives.”

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