Introducing automated systems does not mean that humans are no longer relevant. If anything, to achieve the desired system performance outcomes with automated systems, it is critical to consider how people will be expected to interact with that system, and how it will change their roles and responsibilities.
As with any change, increasingly automated systems present the possibility of new risks. The safety and efficiency benefits associated with new and increasingly automated technologies can only be realized when they are designed to support the performance of the user as well as the performance of other personnel who are directly or indirectly affected by its implementation (including personnel who will need to maintain the technology).
Despite the intended benefits of automation, an extensive body of literature has been developed over the past several decades identifying human performance issues associated with automated systems including:
Use of automated systems can reduce workload during traditionally low workload phases but may add workload or interfere during time-critical, dynamic circumstances.
When automated systems consistently perform well, the human may develop over-reliance on the automated system, which can contribute to skill degradation.
Automated systems may shift the human's role from active controller to supervisor or monitor, something people are not particularly good at doing.
A human-centred approach is key to designing automation and supporting its implementation within normal operations. With respect to automated systems, it is particularly important to address the following HP questions: