The research objective of collaborative project is to synthesize observability and estimation techniques from hybrid control theory to design and validate user-interfaces for expensive, high-risk, and safety-critical collaborative systems (e.g. avionics and biomedical devices). The user interface provides a means for the user to observe the underlying automated system as well as for the user to apply inputs to the system. This research will develop deterministic and stochastic methods for systems under both normal and abnormal operating conditions. The developed techniques and algorithms will be designed to accommodate environments that have complex information requirements, inevitable uncertainties and measurement errors, and nontrivial continuous dynamics, such as those found in air traffic control and aircraft flight management systems. Specifically, this research addresses the development of 1) observability-based conditions to assess the correctness of information content in user interfaces (modeled as hybrid systems with discrete push-button and continuous joystick-type inputs), 2) mode estimation techniques for fault detection (for operation under abnormal conditions) and a prioritization of display elements, 3) display design via sensor scheduling to determine the optimal combination of information for a given display mode, and 4) abstraction-based conditions for correctness of user-interface design (that assume the user interface is a reduced representation of the actual underlying system under standard and abnormal conditions).
If successful, the results of this research could help identify human-automation interaction problems (such as automation surprises, inadequate or excessive information contained in the user interface, and mode confusion) in collaborative systems before they are built, tested, deployed, and possibly while they are operating. The control algorithms and interface design aids developed through this research are generic, and have potential to improve the effectiveness in collaborative systems in a variety of domains. This research plan will contribute to the formal methods in human computer interaction community, and to the control theory communities focused on the design of decision support aids. Developed theory, code, and data will be disseminated in a timely manner. Students will benefit through development of a new, multidisciplinary graduate course in control of collaborative systems, with particular emphasis on avionics and air traffic applications, as well as from mentoring and participation in this research.