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Abstract

Analog, full-scope, full-scale simulators with the fidelity to simulate all of the physical and underlying thermodynamics in the real system are representative of training simulators used by current operating nuclear power plants. However, digital simulators are becoming desirable to researchers and utility companies alike due to their increased accessibility and the capability of integrating new system upgrades. The present study compared operators’ workload response in a given operating procedure using an analog, full-scope/scale simulator and a digital, part-task simulator. Subjective measures (NASA-TLX, MRQ, ISA) and physiological measures (electrocardiography) were used to profile workload response. The results suggested the feasibility of using digital simulators for research purposes with potential future implications for training.

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This paper presents the analyses of data collected from four previous studies to compare the sensitivity of multiple physiological and subjective workload measures in detecting the workload changes induced by common nuclear power plant (NPP) main control room tasks in three types using three simulators. Analyses of effect sizes were used to quantify the magnitude of response or rating changes in the workload metrics. The results suggest that the majority of the workload measures utilized in the Human Performance Test Facility (HPTF) studies show practically relevant sensitivity to the workload changes induced by the experimental manipulations in the simulated NPP operations.
Preprint
INFINITY project EU Report (https://h2020-infinity.eu/) This document provides an evaluation of the potential impacts of the use of immersive technologies on the users: potential positive impacts as well as potential negative impacts. We have conducted literature analysis in the different topics and present a report of what has been previously described in various fields, including investigation activities when available. We consider impacts on 3 dimensions: cognition, health, and well-being. I am the author of section 3 "ERGONOMIC RISKS OF VIRTUAL REALITY FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES"
Preprint
This document provides an evaluation of the potential impacts of the use of immersive technologies on the users: potential positive impacts as well as potential negative impacts. We have conducted literature analysis in the different topics and present a report of what has been previously described in various fields, including investigation activities when available. We consider impacts on 3 dimensions: cognition, health, and well-being. For each kind of impact, we investigated means to measure and to mitigate (for negative impact) or to strengthen (for positive impact). It’s important to note that the impacts of immersive technologies on the users, their nature and intensity, closely relate to the technologies that are used. These technologies are rapidely evolving. Considering the current status of the technologies, the main findings can be summarized in three points: (1) Work in VR on the INFINITY platform should be weighted and dedicated to a limited number of tasks. Even if habituation to VR, which seems to reduce side effects, has been documented, medium to long-term effects is still unknown. The existing literature draws guideline to ensure the user’s wellbeing and we must refer to it to develop the platform, to reduce cognitive load and improve motivation and flow at work. (2) Measuring the effect of several stressors related to tasks in VR should be done on the INFINITY platform. It will help to assess acute stress. Ultimately, it could describe how those stressors can become chronic through episodic exposure, feeding occupational stress. In the short term, those stressors can negatively influence work performances, and INFINITY use-case performances since stress impacts cognitive resources necessary to interact with a virtual environment and conduct investigation-related tasks (data processing, meetings, decision making etc.). (3) Introducing VR as a new ICT tool requires changes in terms of interaction and interfaces and could impact mental workload. But interaction and the interface themselves could lead to mental overload because they require higher working memory resources. It appears that typical tasks transposed in VR do require more working memory resources, such as reading and writing with a keyboard. However, VR allows information spatialization. Despite requiring higher working memory resources, such spatialization seems to promote high performance when tasks take advantage of spatial information. Typically, data visualization and analytics seem to work well in VR because of these spatial information possibilities. This document sets the ground for recommendations that will be delivered in D2.2.
Conference Paper
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Computerized Procedure Systems (CPS) are a key operator interface in modern digital control rooms and are becoming more commonplace as part of traditional control room modernization efforts. As a result, the potential failure modes of such systems, and how these affect operator performance, are important areas of consideration for key stakeholders. A pilot study conducted in 2016 at a training simulator evaluated three failure types of the CPS including: (i) failure of the automatic step evaluation function; (ii) failure of the automatic placekeeping function and (iii) total loss of the CPS. The purpose of the study was to explore operator response to these three failures and to identify key research topics for future studies in this area.
Article
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Virtual reality training systems are commonly used in a variety of domains, and it is important to understand how the realism of a training simulation influences training effectiveness. We conducted a controlled experiment to test the effects of display and scenario properties on training effectiveness for a visual scanning task in a simulated urban environment. The experiment varied the levels of field of view and visual complexity during a training phase and then evaluated scanning performance with the simulator's highest levels of fidelity and scene complexity. To assess scanning performance, we measured target detection and adherence to a prescribed strategy. The results show that both field of view and visual complexity significantly affected target detection during training; higher field of view led to better performance and higher visual complexity worsened performance. Additionally, adherence to the prescribed visual scanning strategy during assessment was best when the level of visual complexity during training matched that of the assessment conditions, providing evidence that similar visual complexity was important for learning the technique. The results also demonstrate that task performance during training was not always a sufficient measure of mastery of an instructed technique. That is, if learning a prescribed strategy or skill is the goal of a training exercise, performance in a simulation may not be an appropriate indicator of effectiveness outside of training-evaluation in a more realistic setting may be necessary.
Article
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In the petrochemical industry, control room operators must address safety-critical alarms and other tasks using complex interfaces. This study developed a guide for assessing human performance using standard human factors measurement tools, and tested the sensitivity of those tools with two interface designs (i.e., gray and black) at three levels of workload (i.e., easy, medium, and difficult). The guide measures human performance through speed and accuracy, perceived workload using two standard instruments (i.e., NASA Task Load Index (NASA-TLX) and Subjective Workload Assessment Technique (SWAT)), situation awareness through the Situation Awareness Global Assessment Technique (SAGAT), and gaze through eye tracking coordinates. Twelve engineering student participants completed one simulation session at each of the three workload levels using one of two interface designs. Workload was manipulated through the number of simulated events (failures) in each session. Overall, the speed and accuracy measures, workload ratings, and eye tracking showed sensitivity to differences in workload level, and situation awareness showed sensitivity to the interaction between workload level and interface type. None of the tools were sensitive to interface type alone. Accuracy was highest under easy workload. Time per failure decreased at higher workload levels. Perceived workload ratings from the SWAT increased as workload increased, but workload ratings from the NASA-TLX were not different across workload levels. When workload increased, situation awareness remained steady for the gray interface but decreased sharply for the black interface, illustrating an interaction effect. Finally, the percentage of time spent looking at different areas of the screen during steady-state periods differed among workload levels. The tools in this guide can be used in the petrochemical industry to make design decisions for control room interfaces when workload levels are a concern.
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The objective of this study is to determine how simulator physical fidelity influences the effectiveness of training the regulatory personnel responsible for examination and oversight of operating personnel and inspection of technical systems at nuclear power reactors. It seeks to contribute to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissionâs (NRCâs) understanding of the physical fidelity requirements of training simulators. The goal of the study is to provide an analytic framework, data, and analyses that inform NRC decisions about the physical fidelity requirements of the simulators it will need to train its staff for assignment at advanced reactors. These staff are expected to come from increasingly diverse educational and experiential backgrounds.
Chapter
Computerized Procedure Systems (CPS) are a key operator interface in modern digital control rooms and are becoming more commonplace as part of traditional control room modernization efforts. As a result, the potential failure modes of such systems, and how these affect operator performance, are important areas of consideration for key stakeholders. A pilot study conducted in 2016 at a training simulator evaluated three failure types of the CPS including: (i) failure of the automatic step evaluation function; (ii) failure of the automatic place-keeping function and (iii) total loss of the CPS. The purpose of the study was to explore operator response to these three failures and to identify key research topics for future studies in this area.
Chapter
This research investigated the impact physical fidelity has on error frequencies when operating a simulated nuclear power plant (NPP) main control room (MCR). The simulated environment used in this study uses dual 24″ monitors and a mouse as its interface, which represents the interface of digital power plants planned to come online. The simulator models an NPP MCR using scroll/pan/zoom (SPZ) to navigate Instrumentation and Control (I&C) panels housed along MCR walls. However, touchscreens can be used to display entire I&C panels, which represents the legacy plants in use today and requires participants to stand to operate in the MCR. A between-subjects experiment was conducted to evaluate desktop and touchscreen interfaces for their impact on response times and error rates when performing reactor operator (RO) tasks. While increased physical fidelity through larger field of view did help reduce response times, using touch induced more miss touch errors than the mouse.
The Multiple Resources Questionnaire (MRQ) is an easily administered 17-item measure for subjective workload assessment that aims to provide high diagnosticity by identifying the load on specific resources. Here validity data from two experiments are reported. Experiment 1 employs two computer-based games and finds that workload as assessed by the MRQ correlates significantly with ratings of overall workload, and with a composite of time demand, mental demand, and stress demand ratings. Because these are important dimensions of other well-accepted workload instruments (i.e., OW, NASA-TLX, and SWAT), the results support the construct validity of the MRQ. Experiment 2 assesses interference between pairings of four laboratory-based tasks, and finds that MRQ-based similarity indices significantly predict the degree of interference between tasks. This outcome supports the criterion validity of the MRQ.
Automating tasks alleviates operator resources to be delegated to other demands, but the cost is often situation awareness. In contrast, complete manual control of a system opens the door for greater human error. Therefore, an ideal situation would require the development of an adaptive system in which automation can be triggered based on performance of a particular task, time spent on the task, or perhaps physiological response. The latter pertains to the goal for this particular study. Electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG), and eye tracking measures were recorded during six multi-tasking scenarios to assess if any one single measure is best suited for future implementation as an automation invocation. EEG showed the greatest potential for that purpose. Copyright 2010 by Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Inc. All rights reserved.
Chapter
The results of a multi-year research program to identify the factors associated with variations in subjective workload within and between different types of tasks are reviewed. Subjective evaluations of 10 workload-related factors were obtained from 16 different experiments. The experimental tasks included simple cognitive and manual control tasks, complex laboratory and supervisory control tasks, and aircraft simulation. Task-, behavior-, and subject-related correlates of subjective workload experiences varied as a function of difficulty manipulations within experiments, different sources of workload between experiments, and individual differences in workload definition. A multi-dimensional rating scale is proposed in which information about the magnitude and sources of six workload-related factors are combined to derive a sensitive and reliable estimate of workload.
Article
The ability of different short-term heart rate variability metrics to classify the level of mental workload (MWL) in 140 s segments was studied. Electrocardiographic data and event related potentials (ERPs), calculated from electroencephalographic data, were collected from 13 healthy subjects during the performance of a computerised cognitive multitask test with different task load levels. The amplitude of the P300 component of the ERPs was used as an objective measure of MWL. Receiver operating characteristics analysis (ROC) showed that the time domain metric of average interbeat interval length was the best-performing metric in terms of classification ability.
Article
Instantaneous self-assessment (ISA) is a technique that has been developed as a measure of workload to provide immediate subjective ratings of work demands during the performance of primary work tasks such as air traffic control. This paper reports a study that compared the results of ISA with those gathered from other established workload evaluation techniques; subjective ratings collected at the end of the task, mean heart rate and heart rate variability, and error in the primary task of tracking. ISA ratings were found to be correlated significantly with the post-task ratings of workload, heart rate variability, and task performance. Generally each of the techniques was sensitive to variations in task difficulty. However, performance on the primary tracking task was found to be poorer during periods when ISA responses were required, regardless of whether they were spoken or manual responses. This finding suggests that the usefulness of the technique is limited in comparison to less intrusive measures of workload.
The NRC’s Human Performance Test Facility: Methodological considerations for developing a research program for systematic data collection using an NPP simulator
  • N Hughes
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Human factors and modelling methods in the development of control room modernization concepts
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Hugo, J.V. & Slay III, L. (2017). Human factors and modelling methods in the development of control room modernization concepts. Proceedings for NPIC&HMIT 2017, San Francisco, CA.
Equal but different: 5 research strategies for improving conclusions drawn from novice populations
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Lackey, S., Reinerman-Jones, L. E., & Salcedo, J. (2014) Equal but different: 5 research strategies for improving conclusions drawn from novice populations. In Proceedings of the 2014 MODSIM World Conference, Hampton, VA.
Systematic human performance data collection: A methodology
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June) Workload response to soft controls presented on two interfaces. Paper presented at the Tenth International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Plant Instrumentation, Control and Human Machine Interface
  • L Reinerman-Jones
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Reinerman-Jones, L., Harris, J., Hughes, N., & D'Agostino, A. (2017, June) Workload response to soft controls presented on two interfaces. Paper presented at the Tenth International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Plant Instrumentation, Control and Human Machine Interface, San Francisco, CA. Abstract retrieved from http://npic-hmit2017.org/wpcontent/data/pdfs/382-21353.pdf
The NRC's Human Performance Test Facility: Methodological considerations for developing a research program for systematic data collection using an NPP simulator
  • N Hughes
  • A D'agostino
  • L Reinerman
Hughes, N., D'Agostino, A., & Reinerman, L. (2017). The NRC's Human Performance Test Facility: Methodological considerations for developing a research program for systematic data collection using an NPP simulator. Proceedings of the Enlarged Halden Programme Group (EHPG) meeting, September 24-18, 2017, Lillehammer, Norway.
Systematic human performance data collection: A methodology
  • N Hughes
  • A D'agostino
  • L Reinerman
  • D Barber
  • J Mercado
  • J Harris
Hughes, N., D'Agostino, A., Reinerman, L., Barber, D., Mercado, J., & Harris, J. (in press) Systematic human performance data collection: A methodology (U.S.NRC NUREG-XXXX).
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulations, 10 CFR 55
U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulations, 10 CFR 55.46 Simulation facilities (2001) Retrieved from https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doccollections/cfr/part055/part055-0046.html