U.S. Army CECOM and Honeywell, Advanced System Facility

As the Joint STARS (Army) Ground Station Module (GSM) evolves in new directions, fundamental questions of crew size and configuration, and human-computer interface design continue to be examined. Essential to the Army's GSM development program is an understanding of the relationships of these operator and crew variables to overall system mission performance.

The Metacrew simulation was developed out of this need for a tool that could examine, in a time-efficient manner, the relationship of these operator variables to overall system performance under a wide range of battlefield and mission conditions.

The foundation of the Metacrew simulation is an empirical model of Joint STARS Ground Station operator behavior. The model depicts the normal sequential flow of target processing activities, tasks and decisions, as the crew members work and interact with one another to interpret the moving target sensor data collected by the Joint STARS and other moving target sensor platforms.

A driver scenario provides the stimuli for this operator model. The scenario depicts targets moving on the battlefield and generates special requests for information from the supported commander. Scenario events are selected for processing by the operator model according to the mission that has been assigned by the simulation user. The time required by the crew to process a target event is determined by their nominal performance capabilities and the number of scenario events competing for their attention at any one time. Work timelines for individual operators are recorded throughout the exercise. Crew and system performance are described in terms of a variety of mission-related information throughput measures.

The Metacrew simulation has been validated against the performance of experienced Joint STARS Ground Station operators at USAICS, Ft. Huachuca, AZ. In these validation trials, the simulation was shown to account for 76-96% of the variance in the performance of real operators. Further, the simulation was shown to respond to workload challenges in a manner similar to actual operators. It is currently being used to analyze alternative ground station crew and deployment configurations.