Human Factors Issues and Challenges In Research on ‘Many-Agent’ Control Applications

Miller, C.¹, Adams, J.², Clark, S.³, Kane, S.⁴, Roundtree, K.², and Walker, P.¹

Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (February 2021)

Human control of multiple agents in swarm or multi-agent deployments are still novel and understudied—especially when real-world research involving many agents (e.g., 50+) are considered, though many organizations are rushing to deploy them for diverse purposes from package delivery to military engagements. Challenges include the scale of situation awareness, workload and attention splitting associated with division of labor across many functions, human perceptions of emergent swarm behaviors, etc. The challenges in either fielding many automated agents in real world settings using current technologies, or of accurately simulating those agents and behaviors sufficiently are posing difficulties—and will become ever more difficult as scale and complexity increases. This panel will focus on recent efforts to create and evaluate methods to support human control of large numbers of swarm or multi-agent vehicles, with an emphasis on deployment and lessons from real world “in the wild” evaluations using multiple representative machine agents.

¹ Smart Information Flow Technologies
² Oregon State University
³ Raytheon BBN Technologies
⁴ Charles River Analytics

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