Trust in Automation: A Study of Helicopter Pilot Perception on Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS)
Currie, Nicholas Colby
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Trust in automation is a growing field of research that serves a vital role in understanding how humans interact with modern technology. Though automation is certainly becoming more prevalent in many professions, it has become a mainstay in the modern helicopter cockpit. One particular piece of modern aviation technology that incorporates a significant amount of automation is Enhance Flight Vision Systems (EFVS). EFVS technology provides pilots with a wealth of information that enables them to “see” under low visibility conditions, thereby increasing their situational awareness. Though the benefits of EFVS technology are easily recognizable, it is still an automated system that is susceptible to developing a poor human-automation relationship in terms of trust. When trust in automation is not properly regulated, it can result in an operator developing overreliance in system capabilities or even potentially lead to system neglect. Given the high workload demands placed upon the modern helicopter pilot, it is necessary that every automated system is designed to inculcate trust. As a result, this study sought to determine the current state of the trust-based relationship that exists between pilots of different experience levels and EFVS technology in order to recommend strategies to improve the pilot-automation relationship. The study presented helicopter pilots of three different experience levels with two different EFVS technologies and asked them to rate their trust in the system’s capabilities under various scenarios. The results of the study indicated that pilots trust EVS displays significantly more than SVS displays. Additionally, the results suggested that a pilot’s flight experience does not impact a pilot’s trust in EFVS displays. Furthermore, the results indicated that no significant relationship exists between display type and a pilot’s flight experience in terms of trust in EFVS automation. In the end, the data collected from this study helped to develop a deeper understanding of how trust in automation impacts the modern cockpit and how EFVS technology can be designed to improve the pilot-automation relationship.