Knowing “what is where” is essential to human perception and performance. This knowledge corresponds to the concept of Situation Awareness (SA), specifically Level 1 SA. The underlying research paradigm concerns tracking of identical objects moving on a screen (Multiple Object Tracking, MOT). This method has been useful to investigate the fundamentals of visual tracking, but it lacks a connection to real-world scenarios. In another paradigm, objects tracked have unique identities (Multiple Identity Tracking, MIT) requiring a combination of peripheral and focal perception in tracking. This model has been used to examine air traffic controllers’ SA. This paper will report results from an experiment where objects with identities similar to typical air traffic control (ATC) call signs were displayed on a plan-view display. The 4- and 8-object conditions replicated previous research and a 12-object condition simulated the density of typical ATC displays. The displays were static to examine the time required to create identity-location bindings (Level 1 SA). The displays were periodically blanked and participants queried about locations of target objects. Location errors and response times were recorded. The object array size of 4 had the highest accuracy and shortest time to acquire good SA. As the object set size increased from 4 objects to 12 objects, location errors increased dramatically. In sum, participants could reliably retain locations and identities of only about three objects. This finding has implications to the capacity of controllers to maintain adequate SA in future ATC systems.
& Rantanen, E.
(2015). Learning of Location-Identity Bindings: Development of Level 1 Situation Awareness in an Air Traffic Control-Like Task. 18th International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 159-164.