Identifying how automation can lose its intended benefit along the development process : a research plan
Automation is usually considered to improve performance in virtually any domain. However it can fail to deliver the target benefit as intended by those managers and designers advocating the introduction of the tool. In safety critical domains this problem is of significance not only because the unexpected effects of automation might prevent its widespread usage but also because they might turn out to be a contributor to incident and accidents. Research on failures of automation to deliver the intended benefit has focused mainly on human automation interaction. This paper presents a PhD research plan that aims at characterizing decisions for those involved in development process of automation for safety critical domains, taken under productive pressure, to identify where and when the initial intention the automation is supposed to deliver can be lost along the development process. We tentatively call such decisions as drift and the final objective is to develop principles that will allow to identify and compensate for possible sources of drift in the development of new automation. The research is based on case studies and is currently entering Year 2.