Local Applications of the Ecological Approach to Human-Machine Systems

By Peter Hancock; John Flach et al. | Go to book overview

Preface

This is the second of a two-volume set on ecological approaches to human factors. Volume I takes a global perspective. It attempts to lay a theoretical foundation for an ecological approach. We think that this is an important exercise. The importance of a firm theoretical base cannot be overestimated. However, the demands of design and application often require a degree of pragmatism. And, in fact, perhaps the best way to present the theoretical base is through a "case-based' presentation. That is, the theoretical base can be illustrated through examples of how it can be applied to specific problems. That is the fundamental goal of this volume. It is a collection of applications that illustrate the importance of an ecological perspective.

An important area of application for the ecological approach has been the control of locomotion. In fact, it might be argued that human performance issues associated with driving cars and landing aircraft were instrumental to the development of an ecological approach. Schiff and Arnone begin Volume 11 with a discussion of driving. This chapter provides a nice comparison and contrast of traditional information- processing-based approaches to driving with the ecological approach. They show how the two approaches can compliment each other to provide a more comprehensive framework for understanding human performance in driving. Flynn and Stoffregen consider the problem of tractor roll-over. They develop a framework for modeling stability properties of the human-machine system. Flach and Warren consider the problem of low-altitude flight. They use a state-space representation to illustrate the fundamental role of higher order variables in determining performance boundaries. They also discuss the information in optic flow that is available to help the pilot close the control loop. Grotz, Rysdyk, Bootsma, Mulder, van der Vaart, and van Wieringen also consider an important aspect of flight--the flare landing. The flare maneuver is very critical to safe landings. However, the informational basis by which the skilled pilot is able to execute this maneuver remains a question mark. Grotz et al. consider tau as a potential source of information for flare. Finally, Riccio reminds us that the feedback loops that allow skillful control of locomotion are not exclusively closed through the visual modality, and that control of locomotion includes internal control loops to stabilize posture of the human with respect to the vehicle. It is likely that higher order properties defined across modalities are critical to control of posture and

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