It is anticipated that Advanced Small Modular Reactors (AdvSMRs) will employ high degrees of automation. High levels of automation can enhance system performance, but often at the cost of reduced human performance. Automation can lead to human out-of the loop issues, unbalanced workload, complacency, and other problems if it is not designed properly. Researchers have proposed adaptive automation (defined as dynamic or flexible allocation of functions) as a way to get the benefits of higher levels of automation without the human performance costs. Adaptive automation has the potential to balance operator workload and enhance operator situation awareness by allocating functions to the operators in a way that is sensitive to overall workload and capabilities at the time of operation. However, there still a number of questions regarding how to effectively design adaptive automation to achieve that potential. One of those questions is related to how to initiate (or trigger) a shift in automation in order to provide maximal sensitivity to operator needs without introducing undesirable consequences (such as unpredictable mode changes). Several triggering mechanisms for shifts in adaptive automation have been proposed including: operator initiated, critical events, performance-based, physiological measurement, model-based, and hybrid methods. As part of a larger project to develop design guidance for human-automation collaboration in AdvSMRs, researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have investigated the effectiveness and applicability of each of these triggering mechanisms in the context of AdvSMR. Researchers reviewed the empirical literature on adaptive automation and assessed each triggering mechanism based on the human-system performance consequences of employing that mechanism. Researchers also assessed the practicality and feasibility of using the mechanism in the context of an AdvSMR control room. Results indicate that there are tradeoffs associated with each mechanism, but that some are more applicable to the AdvSMR domain than others. The two mechanisms that consistently improve performance in laboratory studies are operator initiated adaptive automation based on hierarchical task delegation and the Electroencephalogram (EEG)–based measure of engagement. Current EEG methods are intrusive and require intensive analysis; therefore it is not recommended for an AdvSMR control rooms at this time. Researchers also discuss limitations in the existing empirical literature and make recommendations for further research.

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