Ergonomics and Human Machine Systems
Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics FKIE
- © Fraunhofer FKIE
Making Technology People-Friendly
New sensors, powerful sensor data fusion, broadband communication systems and command systems, increasingly autonomous and interacting systems: besides political and societal changes, technological advance is an important engine of change in military and civilian human-machine systems.
However, technological advance is genuine advance only when people and the overall system profit from it. Notwithstanding technological support, it is humans who make essential mental contributions and take concrete responsibility for these complex overall systems.
The department of ergonomics and human-machine systems is specialized in the integration of human resources with complex technical systems (human-systems integration); it studies and designs human-machine systems for military as well as civilian purposes.
Efficient and productive human-machine concepts and interfaces are necessary for the best possible connection between humans and the latest technology. A well-balanced combination of experience and knowledge of the respective domain is brought into the development process; so are scientifically grounded methods and concepts from ergonomics and human-machine systems technology.
In the department of ergonomics and human-machine systems new technologies are first developed and tested in the laboratory before they are put to use in a more complex real setting. An interdisciplinary approach helps to bring conflicting elements like human and machine, safety, convenience and costs into a well-functioning balance. Information scientists, engineers, mathematicians, physicists, psychologists and media and communications researchers contribute with different perspectives to designing and developing harmonious human-machine systems.
Areas of Expertise
International research on human-machine systems originated in the military sector; the institute in Wachtberg has had a decisive share in this work for more than fifty years (since 1969 as FAT, since 2009 as Fraunhofer FKIE). The innovative tradition continues unabated, currently in two research groups (human-machine systems and human factors).
We use scientifically grounded methods to guide projects from beginning to end. These include analyses of tasks and requirements, basic concept, practice-oriented realization as well as evaluation, maintenance and further development of the technology. Our research is application-oriented and offers our customers specific solutions. Long-term cooperation with military and civilian clients helped us to acquire extensive know-how in sensitive security areas. We have been working with the German military for more than 40 years.
The department of ergonomics and human-machine systems is regularly represented in national and international conferences. We take part in professional panels and expert committees (e.g. NATO Research and Technology Organization) and have a lively exchange with academic institutions in Germany and abroad (RWTH Aachen, TU München, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, NASA Langley Research Center, NASA Ames Research Center).
Applied research in ergonomics and human-machine systems is indispensable when the use of technology has to be smooth and as nearly error-free as possible. This is the case in military operations centers as well as in many areas of civilian life: in aviation and shipping, in traffic control centers, power plants, the fire department, police and in hospitals. In our research we focus on new methods and technologies for an efficient interaction between human and machine. We are concerned with the question of how humans will work in the future, and what kind of technologies may be used to support them. Technologies like Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can be employed to present complex data in a lucid way and to carry out remote maintenance of complex technology. The same technologies can also be put to simulative use in education and training.
ARMS: Augmented Reality as an advanced mobile Situation Display
The ARmS project is focused on exploring the suitability of augmented reality as a tool for supporting ground troops on the move. The goal is to design and develop a prototype mobile augmented reality visualization system for use at group leader level. [More]
ErGAT: Tele-Cooperation in NEC Systems
Due to the many different types of vehicles and machines used by the Bundeswehr, engineers occasionally need expert on-site assistance. The aim of the TEKONOS project is to develop and evaluate an AR/VR system that allows tele-cooperative collaboration with experts back in. [More]
GeBAW / KEOD – »Ergonomics - Systems for the Navy«
Naval operators need support in order to establish situational information such as the classification of unknown ships and when defending against asymmetrical threats. Our Human Machine Systems department has developed ergonomic user interfaces specifically tailored to these requirements. [More]
SAGZA – Support when Assessing 3D Object Information
Operators need information about the target and mission area when planning their mission. The situational awareness of operational forces can be improved considerably when the three-dimensional structures around them can be virtually replicated in 3D. At the FKIE we are developing tools to make this possible. [More]
VESPER – Improving the Security of People in Ferry Crossings
Since the attacks on September 11, 2001, authorities have also striven to raise security standards for ships at sea. Project VESPER is just one such area of research. It has investigated the sea and shore-based measures required by the ISPS Code (International Ship and Port Security Code) and used it to generate functional domains. [More]