Human Centered Systems Laboratory Assessment Summary Report
||April 28 - May 1, 2003
||Thomas B. Sheridan,
Professor Emeritus, MIT
EXPERT/PEER REVIEW PANEL MEMBERS:
Director, Office of Research
South Dakota DOT
|Ian Noy, Ph.D., P.Eng., CPE
Chief Ergonomics Division
Transport Canada and President, Systems Ergonomics
| Louis Tijerina, Ph.D
Senior Technical Specialist
Ford Motor Company
|Richard F. Pain, Ph.D
Transport Safety Coordinator
Transportation Research Board
Barbara T. Harder
B. T. Harder, Inc.
Overview of the Human Centered Systems Laboratory
Tom Granda, Manager, HCS Laboratory 202-493-3365 firstname.lastname@example.org
The purpose of the Human Centered Systems laboratory is the aide in the design of a safe and efficient roadway infrastructure through the analysis of driver and pedestrian behavior and performance. Using a wide range of testing facilities, the laboratory conducts staff research into a broad spectrum of geometric, traffic control, and operations issues, as well as the effects of these elements on drivers and pedestrians. The range of facilities allows researchers to choose the technically appropriate and most cost-effective tools to answer a study question. As participants from the local area exhibit behavior in a variety of challenging roadway conditions, they are observed and documented to gather baseline data, analyze complex roadway issues, and test hypotheses in safe, controlled settings. The HCS Team works closely with transportation engineers to define and implement a research approach for specific issues in the areas of Intersections, Visibility, Pedestrians and Bicycles, Speed Management, and Operations. The team is comprised of both Federal and contract staff with backgrounds in research psychology, transportation engineering, technical/test expertise and programmers.
Key Strengths and Observations
- The Assessment Panel was impressed with the openness to the assessment exhibited by the HCS Team and believes that the review process is commendable and should be maintained.
- The dedication and enthusiasm of the HCS Team
was evident throughout the discussions, bolstered to a large extent by the
dramatic staff turnover and rather significant cultural change that accompanied
the reorganization a few years ago. The
HCS Team appears committed to working in the new mode of direct support to
mainline research programs, being in competition with other labs in some
instances. Moreover, there appears to be
a healthy atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork between FHWA and contractor
- On-site contractors stated they feel they are doing more meaningful research in comparison to several years ago when mission strategic and/or tactical objectives were at times uncertain. The customers interviewed were satisfied with the quality and standard of work and cited increased awareness and growing appreciation for human factors research.
- Some notable strength includes peer reviews and
involvement of external subject-matter experts in projects (e.g., Zwahlen),
which helps ensure a certain level of quality in the work and enhances staff
development. It is the opinion of the
Assessment Panel that the practice of performing research in-house, as opposed
to contracted out; helps develop the expertise of a generally young and
non-highway-trained staff. Since finding
fully trained and content-knowledgeable staff is generally difficult, this is
strategically very positive. Furthermore, we believe that the team approach, trying to break through
the stovepipe culture, will enhance research project and program effectiveness.
Key Recommendations and Status of Current Activities
- Panel Recommendation: Support contractors
do not have easy access to basic library services for performing research.
Action to be taken: A) Re-establish and upgrade Interlibrary
Loan services at TFHRC. B) Establish
HRDS Human Factors Library.
Status as of 12/05/05: A)
Inter-library loans have been made available to all researchers including
non-federal staff. The Human factors
reference material is integrated into the full reference center collection. B)
Human Centered Systems’ reference material has been integrated into the TFHRC
- Panel Recommendation: The laboratory facilities are aging and in need have
Action to be taken: A) Upgrade the computers and system hardware
of the simulator. B) Aging equipment
will be replaced based on the requirements analysis for the research.
Status as of 12/05/05: A) The first stage of an HCS lab up-grade
was completed in 2/05. Dual capabilities were established, (simultaneous development and rendering). The second stage of the up-grade is planned for FY06. B) Purchased a new Saturn car, new PC’s and new cameras and projectors. Completed
- Panel Recommendation: There is currently no discretionary funding. More capital and a faster purchase process are needed to maintain laboratories and keep the research process going.
to be taken: A) Identify human
factors research safety issues and topics as part of R&T roadmaps and
spending plans. B) Identify funding for
immediate upgrade of research facilities. C) Identify long-term funding mechanism after reauthorization, and
several other lab reviews.
Status as of 12/05/05: A) Involved in all areas of team roadmaps HCS roadmap team
involved in all areas of roadmaps. B)
Identified and allocated, upgrade in progress. Funding from the Office of Safety and Joint Program Office has been
identified. C) Specific mechanisms via reauthorization have been
identified. Accumulate funding
expenditures by users. Completed
- Panel Recommendation: Highly specialized staff leaves open
vulnerabilities to turnover and significant loss of technical expertise.
to be taken: A) Encourage
participation in external research activities. Involve staff in TFHRC and FHWA wide activities. B) Encourage
participation in human factors professional organizations. C) Require frequent
discussions between engineers and human factors professionals. D) Develop a work Force succession plan.
Status as of 12/05/05: A)
Cooperative Intersection Cullion Awidegs system, HFCC and Weather,
Participation with SC and DC DOTS, Murlin United Traffic Central Devices
Committee participation. B) Research
papers accepted by HFES, Transportation Research Board, Institute of Transportation
Engineers. Human Factors, Engonomics Society, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Transportation Research Board, Invitations to tri-state conference and GHSA. C) Frequent Meetings, Budget Preparation and Work Plan Development with Engineers. D) Back-ups identified, Re-Distribution of work (IDIQ, Univ. of Florida and Professional development (COTR presentations and papers). Completed
- Panel Recommendation: Human Factors
personnel sometimes have limited opportunities to participate in the earliest
phases of project development. Staff
should be more involved with planning activities.
Action to be
taken: A) Participate on agency and
office team meetings and committees. B)
Provide the opportunity to propose human factor research as part of R&T
roadmap planning and other processes.
Status as of
12/05/05: A) Internal (Safety and Operations), National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, Joint Program Office, Transportation Research Board, Pedestrian
Bike Committee and Speed Management Committee. B) Participated in team meetings to develop Human Factor plans for
research/Roadmap process in place with a top down approach.
- Panel Recommendation: FHWA should identify the end users as well as the customers
internal to FHWA. Specifically, the
panel endorses FHWA’s plan to use and deploy Technology Facilitation Action
Action to be taken: Participate in the development of TFAPs,
identifying the customer users and stakeholders.
Status as of 12/05/05: Integrated with other team roadmaps; complete. Updated periodically. Coordination of Technology Facilitation Action
Plan workshop with VA DOT and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Completed
- Panel Recommendation: The origin of research requirements is not clear. A vision of HCS is needed.
Action to be taken: A) Develop a vision for
HCS. B) Conduct International HF Scan
Tour. C) Identify and suggest long-term
cross cutting research.
as of 12/05/05: Justification paper needed for A) “The vision of the HCS Team is to develop a world class
Human Factors Roadway Transportation Laboratory”. B) Completed 6/04. C) Roadmaps have identified long-term and
cross cutting research needs with the offices of operations and safety. Completed
All Key Recommendations and Activities were completed December 12, 2005.