A model for types and levels of human interaction with automation

IEEE Trans Syst Man Cybern A Syst Hum. 2000 May;30(3):286-97. doi: 10.1109/3468.844354.


Technical developments in computer hardware and software now make it possible to introduce automation into virtually all aspects of human-machine systems. Given these technical capabilities, which system functions should be automated and to what extent? We outline a model for types and levels of automation that provides a framework and an objective basis for making such choices. Appropriate selection is important because automation does not merely supplant but changes human activity and can impose new coordination demands on the human operator. We propose that automation can be applied to four broad classes of functions: 1) information acquisition; 2) information analysis; 3) decision and action selection; and 4) action implementation. Within each of these types, automation can be applied across a continuum of levels from low to high, i.e., from fully manual to fully automatic. A particular system can involve automation of all four types at different levels. The human performance consequences of particular types and levels of automation constitute primary evaluative criteria for automation design using our model. Secondary evaluative criteria include automation reliability and the costs of decision/action consequences, among others. Examples of recommended types and levels of automation are provided to illustrate the application of the model to automation design.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Automation*
  • Decision Making, Computer-Assisted
  • Ergonomics*
  • Humans
  • Man-Machine Systems*
  • Mental Processes
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Systems Integration
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • User-Computer Interface*