Research Fellow in Electronics, Electrical and Computer Science and Engineering / Research Fellow in Mechanical and Aerospace En Queen’s University Belfast United Kingdom

Queen’s University Belfast

Research Fellow – Thales                                            

Ref: 18/106781

School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


The design of human/machine interfaces (HMIs) requires multi-disciplinary understanding and inputs if they are to operate optimally in the field. Digital/virtual design and validation methods can configure layouts and facilitate ergonomic optimisation but current state of the art methods fall short of what is required to fully understand and include human factors around situational awareness and effective communication in the HMI design process. This is a significant challenge when groups of individuals have to work collaboratively, communicate effectively and make decisions correctly in order to operate multiple complex systems within a vehicle (or between a group of vehicles) in pressured scenarios (i.e. in a defence context). Autonomous agents have the potential to improve system performance by undertaking operations on behalf of the operator thereby reducing user workload.  In order to realise this potential, a HMI design paradigm is required to effectively integrate hardware/software, human and agent based methods for complex system design.

This post is available for 24 months.



1.            Conduct background study & evaluation of existing systems:  Working with the industrial sponsor, capture the information required to provide a base line system to develop understanding and to use as the basis for future improvements.  
This will involve a series of workshops with end users to determine vehicle / system operator needs and identify overriding requirements.

2.            Explore novel technology for HMI:  Conduct a literature / technology review to examine latest research / applications in the area relative to the requirements identified by Objective 1.  The potential of using virtual and augmented reality for visual stimulus will be considered alongside using other forms of multisensory stimulation (e.g. haptics, audio and any other modalities considered relevant to the programme aim).

3.            Develop new configuration concepts and interaction modalities for use of crew in a multi mission system within a vehicle for defence:  Based on the requirements of Objective 1 and the outcomes from Objective 2, the existing configuration and new interior layouts and methods for HMI design will be developed virtually (based on CAD models).  These will be used for qualitative and quantitative testing with end users comparing existing and proposed systems.

4.            Understand impact of autonomous agent: The aim of this task is to determine if autonomous agents can be safely and effectively used to aid or take over some of the decision-making processes of the operators.  For high workload or sensory overload scenarios, these agents should integrate learning, communication, collaboration and knowledge management. The work will determine if information from multiple low cost sensors can leverage better, more reliable and accurate performance. The work will define the limitations of current and forthcoming hardware technology and will seek to mitigate these limitations through intelligent software. A review of literature will be required to determine suitability of agents for real time decision making. A sample situation based on existing and new interior design and interface interaction will be developed with and without autonomous agents to quantity benefit.

5.            Investigate & evaluate new crew member roles & responsibilities:  Investigate/review the role that crewmembers will play within new HMIs based on outcomes from Objectives 1 - 4.  Using the virtual prototypes developed in Objective 3 and any inclusion of agents from Objective 4, optimised modes in interaction and member responsibilities can be determined.  This will involve testing and measuring behaviours in a number of end users where human sensory load/overload will also be monitored and assessed. A selected number of typical operational scenarios will be used to do this. The scenarios under test will be defined by the Sponsor and highlighted in Objective 1 as being problematic. The workload of the operator and any other crew member will be assessed through appropriate behavioural measures.

6.            Recommend new product development follow-ups for industrial sponsor:  Due consideration will be given to the outcomes of Objectives 1 – 5 and recommendations will be given regarding any new HMI and the associated effects this will have on operator workload. If virtual testing shows a significant reduction in work load then a physical prototype will be required for further testing and consideration using the methodologies and techniques already developed.


Information about the supervisory team (including research outputs) can be found at:

Dr Karen Rafferty Profile,

Dr Joesph Butterfield Profile,


Further information about Simulation Technologies,


Further information about Virtual Reality and Robotics,


About the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science,


About the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Please note, due to the requirements of the resident labour market test the University will not be able to offer sponsorship under Tier 2.  Applicants must hold, or be able to obtain, permission to work in the UK without sponsorship.


Anticipated interview date: Wednesday 17 October 2018


Salary Scale: £33,199 - £39,610 per annum (potential to progress to £43,266 per annum through sustained exceptional contribution)


Closing date: Friday 5 October 2018


For full criteria and to apply online, visit For further information or assistance contact Human Resources, Queen’s University Belfast, BT7 1NN. Telephone (028) 9097 3044 or email on


The University is committed to equality of opportunity and to selection on merit. It therefore welcomes applications from all sections of society and particularly welcomes applications from people with a disability.


Fixed term

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