Licentiate thesis 2006-004

Usability in Transportation - Improving the Analysis of Cognitive Work Tasks

Mikael Erlandsson

02 June 2006


In most vehicle domains within the transportation sector, traffic is increasing and vehicles are becoming more technologically advanced. In addition to this, drivers are faced with conflicting goals, such as punctuality, maintaining safety, minimizing fuel consumption, ensuring passenger comfort, etc. When accidents occur, the drivers' actions and mishaps are often in focus, even though the work environment, the organization behind the drivers, and the educational level may provide equally important explanations for incidents and actions.

In this thesis, factors influencing operators' behaviour are acknowledged and attempts are made to understand how these factors affect vehicle operators in their daily work. Even though modern vehicles are equipped with new technology that supposedly aids drivers, studies of actual work typically reveal that these tools are not necessarily suited for their purpose.

In a larger perspective, it is necessary not only to improve this technology, but to redesign how vehicle drivers perform their work. In practice, also traditional processes for development of technology affect how the operators work, although then simply a side effect of technology being introduced. Based on a deep understanding of the operators' work, the long-term goal here is to instead design new ways of working that allows the operators to use their skills to do meaningful driving tasks supported by technology.

To acquire this understanding of how the operators work, a new method of information acquisition has been developed and tested within the rail and marine domains. These studies resulted with an understanding of what train and high-speed ferry operators are occupied with during their journeys, as well as insights into why they perform in certain manners and how they think and reason about these tasks.

Note: ISSN of originally printed version should be 1404-5117

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