Two research partnerships, one with THALES Australia and another with DST Group, are exploring ways to design intelligent systems that can assist human operators in aviation.
The projects aim to investigate, model and implement Cognitive Human-Machine Interfaces and Interactions (CHMI2) for trusted autonomous operations of manned and unmanned aircraft.
The projects provide opportunities for final year engineering students, masters and PhD candidates to work on next generation aerospace systems.
Automation systems are used in aviation to offset the workload for pilots. This has seen flight crew numbers reduce from up to five in the 1960s, down to zero pilots on-board today’s unmanned aircraft.
Such evolution and increasing complexity can impact on flight safety with the role of humans as decision-makers becoming more critical, especially if the automation fails to perform its intended function.
The CHMI2 projects build trusted autonomy by adapting to the cognitive needs of pilots. It monitors the pilots to determine their state of fatigue, stress, workload, attention and level of trust. In an unmanned context, trusted autonomy supports ground pilots to manage multiple drones.
Students will develop, test and validate the CHMI2 system prototype using specialist equipment in the Autonomous Systems and Human Factors Engineering Laboratory at RMIT’s Bundoora East campus.
The lab hosts aviation equipment including flight simulators and radar controller workstations and is also equipped with neuro-physiological sensors to allow the machines to infer and adapt to the cognitive state of the human operators.
According to project leader Professor Roberto Sabatini, RMIT has a lot of expertise in this area.
“My involvement in numerous research collaborations within defence, academia, government and industry provides a unique perspective on the research needs of the various stakeholders,” said Professor Sabatini.
“The CHMI2 project is currently addressing the human factors engineering needs of these stakeholders,” he said.
The project has given me the opportunity to shape the future of human factors engineering and to re-define how humans interact with increasingly intelligent and autonomous systems.
Through this project I am gaining immense engineering skills and industrial exposure which is well-suited to the needs of tomorrow’s employers. I am contributing to world-class research that is creating a new domain of expertise. I can see first-hand how my research gets translated into practical applications."
- PhD candidate Yixiang Lim