Human-Autonomous Systems Collective Capability (HASCC)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Computer Science


Human-Autonomous Systems (HAS) are collections of human and autonomous agencies of great importance to, defence, disaster and emergency response, transport, and energy services (especially in hostile/inhospitable environments). However, current reality is that HAS do not provide the right information at the right time to the right agent (human or autonomous); cause information overload; and produce rigid, inflexible and ineffective rule bound behaviours. The current state-of the art in Human-Autonomous Systems is that they often involve disparate, incompatible, and 'stove-piped' communication and information structures with conflicting technologies. This has resulted in failures, ineffectiveness and inefficiency, costing resources and even lives. Improving the collective capability of human-autonomous systems requires agile and flexible behaviour in the face of complex and rapidly changing situations. Developing the collective capability of HAS requires and leads to improving; i) the levels of local and global awareness and utility of information and knowledge, ii) the quality and trustworthiness of decision-making and consideration of alternatives, iii) the ability to increase the level of "command by intent" through the development of lightweight but richer reporting and monitoring mechanisms; and iv) the ability to globally exploit and learn from local initiatives. Underlying all of these lies the importance of the, representation, interactive manipulation and communication of information and knowledge.

This 36 month research project will achieve improvements in HAS performance through novel breakthroughs in important areas of Collective Capability for Human-Autonomous Systems (HASCC0. Those breakthroughs will enable improved levels of shared awareness, collective decision-making, agile, responsive command, and collective learning. To achieve this we will develop protocols and technologies for information and knowledge abstraction and representation, argumentation, rationale, command and reporting structures.
Our approach is to develop protocols and technologies to support the interactions and knowledge manipulations needed to enhance HAS collective awareness and decision-making and capable of representing and interacting with;
- the (rich but lightweight) Argumentation, Rationale, Command and Reporting Structures,
- which influence local and global and include strategic, tactical and operational decision-making.
Enabling HAS collectives to be agile and responsive.
Our investigations comprise two cycles corresponding to different application domain scenarios. Each application domain will present different information and decision-making requirements, and will require different strategic, tactical and operational deployments of HAS. In this way we will seek to assess the generality and wider applicability of our research findings. In the first cycle, we will focus on the situation awareness and decision-making required of HAS for "Multiple Vehicle Cooperative Autonomy". In the second, we will expand our research to investigate HAS for "investigation and repair of defective infrastructure". In each cycle, we will undertake scenario development, modelling, prototyping, evaluation and revision. At the end of each cycle we will produce versions of Protoypes, Models and Principles of HASCC.
The research will directly contribute to several EPSRC strategic priority themes by providing science and technology that strengthens critical national infrastructure in:
Global Uncertainties - Collective Capability to underpin agile, coherent and integrated HAS, in Defence and Disaster Emergency Response Services
Digital Economy - the development of novel Collective Capability Technologies to advance Autonomous Systems,
Energy - Collective Capability to underpin HAS enabling safe and reliable energy provision.
Transport - Collective Capability for HAS to provide reliable, safe and efficient Transport Services.

Planned Impact

This research will benefit Researchers, Industry, Commerce, End-Users and Stakeholders; in scientific, technological, economic, and societal terms.

Researchers will benefit in terms of;
- researchers investigating the design, assessment, potential capability, command and control of Human-autonomous systems (since it contributes to an extension of HAS capability),
- researchers investigating complex systems and collective intelligence (we will provide models of complex interactions, rich but lightweight information and knowledge representation and protocol technologies for situation awareness and decision making problems, and their empirical assessment),
- Human-computer-interaction researchers with interests in collaboration, situation awareness, decision making and human interaction with autonomous agents (the research will provide models of HAS interactions, principles and technologies for information and knowledge sharing for collective situation awareness, and decision-making and their empirical assessments).
It brings added value and synergy to existing EPSRC research in the Digital Economy Hubs, the work in Human Agent Interaction, and in the EU in Ambient and Social Computing. The research forms an important part of the research strategy of the university and will have major impact on the influence of science and technology in HAS. In pursuit of those benefits, we will establish formal links with international centres of research excellence including DSTL, the UK digital economy hubs, Jenning's group at the University of Southampton, Rodden's group at the University of Nottingham, Bundy's group in Edinburgh, in the USA at - MIT (Pentland), Penn State (Carroll).), CMU (HCI Institute and Robotics lab) and the Santa Fe Institute, in Australia (CSIRO, DSTO, QUT) and in central Europe (Oslo, Helsinki).

Industry, Commerce End-Users, Stakeholders:
we will ensure that there is opportunity and mechanism to identify and develop commercial and strategic, impact and benefit from the research. The immediate generic UK beneficiaries of the research include; aerospace industries, defence industries, MoD, emergency services, transport infrastructure industries and authorities, energy provision industries and authorities. We have ensured that we have mechanisms and routes to engage with members of each of these through our workshops and our engagements with subsets of these during each of our project cycles. In addition, we have ensured that we can engage with international representatives of these communities through our visits to the USA and Australia. To ensure our research has wider impact and benefits to UK society and economy we will utilise our research, practitioner and stakeholders contacts and KTN activities in social science, health and welfare.


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Calderon A (2015) Achieving an Information System's Capability through C2 in International Journal of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management

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Calderon A.C. (2014) IntCris: A tool for enhanced communication and collective decision-making during crises in ISCRAM 2014 Conference Proceedings - 11th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management

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Calderon A.C. (2013) Leading cats: How to effectively command collectives in ISCRAM 2013 Conference Proceedings - 10th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management

Description There are important and significant differences concerning the way people make decisions upon the same information that differ depending upon the source being human or autonomous system/agent.
Exploitation Route The design of AS/human interaction decision making systems.
The design of the communications between human/AS systems.
The use of rationales and confidence in the analysis of differences in human decision making.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Security and Diplomacy,Transport,Other

Description In the understanding of Autonomy and human interaction with autonomy on defence settings
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description IMPACT FUND
Amount £8,766 (GBP)
Organisation University of Bath 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2014 
End 07/2014
Description Dstl 
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Exchange of Information and findings
Collaborator Contribution Exchange of information and findings and advice on application and relevance to defence
Impact Cuts across computational and psychological disciplines
Start Year 2013
Description A prototype software tool for commanding and reporting in Human Autonomous Systems in emergency and crisis management 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact software presented to Dstl published journal paper on it 
Description Invited Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact invited Seminar Melbourne
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Keynote Address 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Led to further work in Dstl,

After the talk Dstl have asked me to provide technical review of one of their programmes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Keynote address 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote Address to Defence Academy Shrivenham
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
Description Keynote address 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Keynote address to Electronic Warfare Symposium Shrivenham
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Panel at CSCW 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016