Aviation & Aerospace

The aviation lab conducts research related to the design and operation of aircraft, from commercial airplanes to unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Our goal is to optimize pilot/operator performance, taking into consideration human physical capabilities, cognition, and physiology. By furthering our understanding of human performance in complex aviation systems we hope to increase the efficiency and safety in air travel for aircraft pilots/operators and passengers. In the past, the lab has completed projects related to pilot multi-tasking and trust in automation, using versions of cockpit-simulator software. Our current research includes the study of pilot distraction and workload, as well as UAS operator training and selection.

Human-Automation Interaction Division

The Human-Automation Interaction division conducts research related to aspects of humans and technology that impact their performance as individual parts of a larger system. The focus of this research is to identify risks associated with human-machine systems in aviation and seek innovative ways to mitigate these concerns. Topics of interest include:

  • Trust in automation
  • Operator complacency
  • Situation awareness
  • Workload management
  • Reliance and compliance behaviors
  • Adaptive automation
  • Display Design


Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Division

The UAS division is focused on solving human factors challenges related to the remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, that have become increasingly popular in both military and civilian applications. The lab’s research aims to identify key attributes that may best predict success in the operation of unmanned aircraft. Predictive modeling techniques allow researchers to build a profile of ideal operators, with results being useful for future training and selection methods.

In the picture below, participants operate an unmanned aircraft through a simulated search-and-rescue mission. Our goal is to improve upon and help validate existing operator selection and training methods.