School of
Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

Designing for Collaborative Automation: A Intelligent Course-of-Action Exploration Tool for Transportation Planning

Dr Emilie M. Roth - Roth Cognitive EngineeringMon, 02/07/2012 - 11:00
Prof. Penelope Sanderson and Cara Stitzlein (President HFES - UQ Student Chapter)

A US National Research Council committee on Human-System Design highlighted the importance of grounding system design in an understanding of the cognitive and collaborative demands of the work  (Pew and Mavor, 2007). Work-centered design (WCD) embraces this philosophy. Work aiding is provided through a combination of visualizations that enable practitioners to directly perceive work goals, affordances and constraints (representational aiding), and direct aiding whereby machine intelligence is used to synthesize and present needed information in the context of work visualizations (e.g., alerting to problems or suggesting solutions). In this talk I will illustrate the WCD approach by describing one of the most recent prototype support systems we have developed as part of a program to develop and test decision support systems for a military transportation planning organization. The work I will describe is being conducted in collaboration with colleagues from Raytheon BBN Technologies, under the sponsorship of the US Air Force Research Labs. To military transportation planners a course of action (COA) is a transportation plan – a description of the vehicles, routes, and ports to be used to move cargo and passengers to designated locations.  Planners are often faced with the need to quickly produce multiple COA options in response to dynamically emerging needs. We designed, prototyped, and evaluated a rapid COA exploration tool that enables planners to rapidly develop and investigate multiple potential plans. The prototype leverages simulation technology and is part of an ongoing effort to develop and illustrate techniques for design of collaborative automated aids that build on opaque underlying problem-solving technologies. The general implications for design of effective, work-centered, collaborative automation will be discussed.


Emilie Roth is one of the pioneers of the cognitive engineering approach to human-system integration. A cognitive psychologist by training, she has been involved in cognitive analysis and design of decision support systems in a variety of safety-critical domains, ranging from nuclear power plant control rooms to railroad operations, military command and control, medical operating rooms and intelligence analysis.  She received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1980, and began her Human Factors career at the Westinghouse Science and Technology Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Since 1997 Dr. Roth has operated her own company, Roth Cognitive Engineering, which is based inBrookline, MA.  She is a fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and is currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making.  Her talk is based on collaborative work with Raytheon BBN Technologies colleagues developing work-centered support systems for the Air Mobility Command, and more recently for TRANSCOM at Scott Air Force Base, under programs funded by the US Air Force Research Labs.

Seminar Type: 

ITEE Research Seminar