Last Published:  07/31/19 10:05:30 AM (Central)
Responsible Element: Human Factors and Behavioral Performance (HFBP)
Status: Open
a) Initial state

The research conducted thus far on the effects of autonomy on teams, while limited, has identified several significant outcomes of increased autonomy, including effects on problem solving, task performance, personal strain, team cohesion, and well-being. However, the majority of the work on autonomy has been conducted in ground-based organizations; we know little about the possible effects of autonomy in a spaceflight environment, where the level of autonomy will shift as a function of distance and communication delays, requiring increased autonomy with more distance. Current spaceflight missions are heavily dependent on communication with the ground in terms of guiding team choices and actions. Little work has been done examining the effects of increased decision-making discretion by individual astronauts and the crew team with regard to ground and spaceflight crew performance, health, and well-being. Additionally, the effects of reducing crew autonomy on a return trip are unknown.  A more complete understanding of the effects of shifting levels of autonomy on team functioning, for both the ground and flight crews, is needed to properly characterize the risk to the team. The aim of this gap is to determine the strategies for managing shifting levels of autonomy to optimize team performance and to determine effective methods of support to counter potential negative outcomes due to shifting levels of autonomy for exploration missions (<6; 6-12; >12 months) beyond low Earth orbit.

Materiel Autonomy: The state of a system (e.g., flight crew, vehicle, ground crew, or combination thereof), requiring no external provision of equipment or supplies to perform a mission throughout its duration.

Decision-Making Autonomy: The state of a system (e.g., flight crew, vehicle, ground crew, or combination thereof) having the information, tools, skills, and authority required for the planning, management, and execution of tasks and to conduct independent problem-solving.

b) Target for Closure
Identify set of key outcomes of shifts in autonomy (both increased and decreased) at multiple levels and across multiple mission lengths (<6; 6-12; >12 months) along with a set of validated team support countermeasures and standards targeting autonomy-related outcomes that maintain team function and psychosocial health within 90% of current ISS psychological ops support levels.  Closure will occur in two stages: (1) Identification of key outcomes of shifts in autonomy on team function specific to ICE environments based on variance across different mission durations (<6; 6-12; >12 months), quantifying the impact of different levels of autonomy on team and mission outcomes and defining how these impact the key indicators of team function in team gap 1 and thresholds of team function in team gap 9.  (2) Development of countermeasures targeting maintenance and enhancement of key team outcomes, as defined in team gap 1,  influenced by shifting levels of autonomy; countermeasures that have been (a) verified,  (b) validated, and (c) targeted to pre-mission preparation and in-flight self-sustainment. The impact of these countermeasures on team outcomes will be defined with respect to other countermeasures identified in team gap 3.

c) Metrics for interim progress

(1) Review the status of what is known regarding dynamics and key contributors of autonomous team functioning in ICE environments, then validate with BHPWG (10%);
(2) Solicit and implement studies to benchmark autonomous team function variations in different ground analogs (15%);
(3) Develop report on critical outcomes of shifting autonomy for team functioning in relation to potential countermeasures (20%);
(4) Vet with BHP SMEs and obtain ratings of comparability (5%);
(5) Solicit studies to develop, verify, and validate autonomy countermeasures in high fidelity analogs (20%);
(6) Validate autonomy countermeasures in spaceflight (i.e., effectiveness, acceptability, operational feasibility) (20%);
(7) Present a satisfactory set of countermeasures/recommendations to BHP Ops, Space Medicine, CB, Mission Ops (as needed during process) (10%).

d) Approach

This gap serves to identify the critical effects of shifting levels of autonomy on team performance and well-being and to provide the countermeasures necessary to support the ground and crew in terms of their technical task performance as well as their social team interactions (while addressing their psychosocial needs) in managing a mission in an autonomous long duration environment. Countermeasures developed encompass pre-, during- and post-mission phases.

Target for Closure
No Target for Closure available.
Risk Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team
You are here! Gap Team Gap 6: We need to identify methods to support and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy during long duration and/or distance exploration missions.

No Documentation Available