Human Dimension

The diversity of the U.S. Army's mission, equipment, and Soldier population relative to the sister armed services is unparalleled. Our Soldiers carry out their mission in infantry squads and platoons, in tanks, in helicopters, and in tactical operations centers. They walk, drive, fly, jump out of aircraft, and sit at consoles. They operate fire arms with millimeter accuracy, fire large caliber ammunition, fire artillery, and control unmanned ground and aerial systems. They operate sophisticated communications systems and conduct reconnaissance and surveillance directly and with remote sensors. They conduct full-spectrum operations-deciding to go in "hard or soft" based on the combination of commander's intent, immediate cues from the environmental context, and individual judgment. In short, this diversity drives the breadth and depth of the Human Dimension research in the Army Research Laboratory. Additionally, the U.S. Army is the leader in human-systems modeling, simulation, and analysis, ensuring that the Soldier is considered early in system concept development, evaluation, and design. Thus, the Army Research Laboratory Human Research and Engineering Directorate is unique in conducting basic and applied research and then applying those specific findings and generalized principles to the acquisition of Army systems.

Human Robotic Interaction

Human Robotic Interaction

Vision: Manage workload and improve performance for Soldier-robots team, where robots can be small or large ground or air assets, through the seamless integration into military and civilian activity.

The human robotic interaction (HRI) goal is to fit the technology to the Soldier by considering various aspects of the environment and of the Soldier such as the operating environments, tasks, and roles of Soldier and robot within operational team dynamics.

The HRI program uses multiple research approaches -- modeling, simulation, laboratory experimentation, and field experimentation -- to achieve this overall goal. We have basic and applied research in HRI to include Cognitive Robotics, Supervisory Control, Soldier-Robot Teaming, and Mitigation Strategies that apply to mounted and dismounted operations with robotic systems. In addition, we support current fieldable robotics systems by applying our human factors expertise to system design

Human System Integration

Vision: Ensure manpower requirements, workload, and skill demands are considered collectively and systematically. This program comprises two research areas: Soldier Centered Design Tools and Soldier Centered Analysis.

Social-Cognitive - Cultural Networks

Vision: Comparable to developments in academia, private industry, and the home and personal environments, the U.S. military is building a network-centric force that will rely on networked communications to push information to Soldiers and from which Soldiers will pull information that they need. Advances in network science are required to support this capability and will draw from a host of disciplines to include cognitive science, social science, industrial-organizational psychology. ARL's Human Research and Engineering Directorate is conducting a cross-disciplinary basic and applied research program to significantly advance the state-of-the-art in how networks influence and are influenced by human behavior in the context of military decision making. The research will contribute to the development of theory, measures, models, and understanding of social networks and the cognitive implications of those networks. The research will ultimately help guide the design of human-team-system interaction and feed future operational tools. Research facilities range from networked simulations in a laboratory environment to field exercises. Key themes include portraying network information and investigations into how to drive the information and communication with dynamic social network information in order to influence the network in real time to support the Soldier/decision maker.

Major Research Areas:

  • The International Technology Alliance in Network and Information Sciences (ITA): The ITA is an alliance of universities, companies, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and the UK Ministry of Defense. Of the four Technical Areas that define this consortium, ARL is a leader in the area "Network Enabled Cognition."ARL is the overall US Army lead, and more information about this international cooperative initiative is available here.
  • The Network Science Collaborative Technology Alliance (NS CTA): The Army is establishing a CTA that will bring together government, industry and academic institutions to address research and development to enable network-centric warfare and network-centric operations through the incorporation of joint interdependency and networked human and organizational behavior enabled by the full spectrum of Command, Control, Communication, Computers Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) technologies. The objective of the CTA is to perform foundational research on network science, leading to a fundamental understanding of the interplay among the social/cognitive, information, and communication networks. Germane to the work of ARL is the creation within the CTA of the Social/Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center which will execute a basic and applied research program to significantly advance the state-of-the-art in how networks influence and are influenced by human behavior in the context of military decision making. This includes how people interface with the network and the information products generated by the tasking, collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination (TCPED) process, how they process situational information, especially its representation to humans and how they make military decisions under the stresses of combat. This Center will also execute research in understanding of social networks as input to an overall networking architecture. More information about the NS CTA is available here.
  • Human Dimension of Network Science: Both basic and applied research efforts are directed toward the understanding of the complexities of human-network interactions and how they impact decision-making and Soldier performance and how the interactions place demands on the network itself. Projects range from high resolution cognitive models of robotics manager performance under conditions of networked environment, to the examination of "net workload"- what extra or unique cognitive requirements characterize operating in a networked environment, and what are the factors that affect operations in such an environment and to the development of a psychometric scale to measure net-workload.
  • Tactical Human Integration of Networked Knowledge Army Technology Objective (ATO): In network centric operations, information is abundant, received from many different sources (human and sensor), and is presented in a variety of ways (text, voice, image). However, the sheer volume of information available over the network may lead to problems in using this resource effectively. In order to maintain effective command and control, information systems must augment and operate within human cognitive capabilities and limitations. This ATO involves a comprehensive cross-cutting approach that includes the cognitive, social, and information domains of network operations.

Soldier Sensory - Cognitive Motor Performance

Soldier Sensory - Cognitive Motor Performace

Vision: Improve sensory, perceptual, physical, and cognitive performance of Soldiers, Soldier-teams, and Soldier-systems. This program comprises three research areas: Enhanced Battlefield Vision, Auditory Awareness and Speech Communications, and Dismounted Soldier Task Performance.

Major Research Areas:

  • Enhanced Battlefield Vision
  • Auditory Awareness and Speech Communications
  • Dismounted Soldier Task Performance



Vision: Enable revolutionary advances in Soldier-system performance by integrating modern neuroscience with human factors, psychology, and engineering to enhance our understanding of Soldier function and behavior in complex operational settings.

Major Research Areas:

  • Fundamentals of Soldier Neuro-Cognitive Performance: Develop and enhance the understanding of how the human brain perceives and binds multi-sensory information, turns that information into action, and how individual differences and stressors impact that neural processing. This fundamental research will lead to human-system communications that are more efficient and robust.
  • Advanced Operational Neuro-Cognitive Measurement and Analysis: Develop state-of-the-art and next-generation sensors and signal decomposition methods for understanding nervous system functioning within operationally-relevant settings. Further extend this capability to develop cognitive state classification algorithms that can be used to assess Soldier-system performance.
  • Neuroergonomics System Design: Optimize Soldier-system performance through neutrally-informed systems, real-time Soldier monitoring, and neutrally-based adaptive systems.

Last Update / Reviewed: September 1, 2010