News ItemsImproving Worker Safety and Effectiveness through Human-Machine Teaming

Improving Worker Safety and Effectiveness through Human-Machine Teaming

Performance Augmentation Systems Division addressing gaps in performance and building human-machine teams to enhance human social, cognitive, and physical capabilities on the job

As workplaces combine humans, agents, and AI, evolving into multi-species organizations, the integration of humans and machines presents distinct new dynamics and challenges. This requires understanding and enabling shared reasoning, intent, context, and communications: the human not only needs to understand the machine, but the machine must also understand the human. Ironically, the more automation and technology we introduce, the more important the role of the human becomes. It’s only by placing the human at the center of this relationship that we will truly move towards a productive, cooperative, and ethical human-AI future—one that augments, not replaces, humans.

Aptima, Inc.’s Performance Augmentation Systems (PAS) Division is addressing these challenges with advanced technology solutions that enhance human social, cognitive, and physical capabilities on the job. Led by Dr. Adam Fouse, PAS leverages Aptima’s work in computational analytics, AI, and performance assessment to create human-machine systems based on models and measures of individual, team, and social activity.

Through the careful application of techniques such as requirements analysis, design thinking, and rapid prototyping, PAS creates solutions that precisely address gaps in performance and form true partnerships between humans and technology.

Performance Augmentation Systems in Action

Health and Safety Monitoring for Aircraft Maintenance Workers

Although the Air Force has an exceptional track record for health and safety in its Air Logistics Complexes (ALCs), the Air Force Sustainment Center’s “Complex of the Future” initiative calls for the insertion of new emerging technologies that improve work efficiency, reduce costs, accelerate asset readiness, and continue to assure worker safety. Confined spaces work is one key area ripe for improvement. Although current safety protocol is effective in preventing incidents, ALCs struggle to do so in a cost-effective manner without compromising worker safety. The state-of-the-art Confined Spaces Monitoring System (CSMS) developed by Aptima and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics revolutionizes health and safety monitoring in the ALCs through innovative wearable sensors (health, atmospheric, indoor location) that are securely networked to a remote monitoring station. Compared to current-day operations that require safety attendants at a 1:1 ratio, CSMS enables a “many to one” ratio of maintainers per safety attendant, drastically reducing cost and increasing efficiencies. The initial CSMS deployment site is the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex (WR-ALC), followed by future transition across other DoD weapon systems. This work was initially funded by the Air Force Sustainment Center under Contract FA8501-16-C-0020.

Personal Digital Assistant for Intelligence Analysts

Data collection capabilities for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations continuously improve, generating more data more quickly and across an ever-increasing spectrum of modalities than can be handled by human analysts alone. Although personal digital assistant technology has emerged in the commercial domain to support the basic, consistent needs of users, it is a challenging proposition to design such systems to help human decision makers and cognitive workers in data-rich environments that are dynamic, noisy, uncertain, and ambiguous, and where the cost of a mistake is measured in human lives. In response to this need, Aptima and partners, PatchPlus Consulting, ASTi, and Raytheon, developed HERMIONE, the Human-awarE Reasoner for Multimodal Interactive Operations in Networked Environments. HERMIONE is designed to be a conversational digital assistant for analysts that proactively brings critical information to their attention in a naturalistic manner to optimize overall system performance. HERMIONE quickly provides information on demand and streamlines routine tasks, while engaging analysts in multimodal conversations that best fit their current workflow and objectives. Ultimately, HERMIONE will enable analysts to better understand the complex information environment, and thereby improve the efficiency of decision making and the quality of the reports produced. This work was funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory under Contract FA8650-19-P-6079.

Visual Analytics Tool for Transportation and Safety Engineers

Current access to and analysis of the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) dataset requires significant time and technical skill. Data analysis tools are often general-purpose, designed to support the analysis of any dataset, and do not easily support the types of questions many transportation and safety engineers ask of the FARS data. Visualizations can help users understand relationships between variables and uncover patterns in their data. Aptima designed the Collaboration-Optimized Network for Naturalistic Exploration and Communication about Traffic (CONNECT) tool to empower users to collaboratively create and share visualizations of FARS. CONNECT simplifies the process of creating visualizations by making the entire FARs dataset immediately accessible through a tailored interface and experience, improving exploratory analysis. Users are able to reuse their own analyses and utilize visualizations shared by others, saving time when creating analysis products while also increasing quality. CONNECT visualizations can be shared with any audience as dynamic, web-based content or as traditional static media. In Phase I, Aptima designed the user interface and software architecture, and developed a limited functionality prototype for CONNECT. The objective in Phase II is to continue developing both the prototype and a viable commercialization plan. This work is being funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center under contract 6913G619P800151. The material above has been previously released by the Government at

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