Military Embedded Systems

Navy addresses cognitive workloads in Charles River Analytics contract


September 24, 2018

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Navy addresses cognitive workloads in Charles River Analytics contract
Charles River Analytics photo

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. U.S. Navy officials released additional funding to Charles River Analytics, Inc. to build a system called SEAHAWK that assesses cognitive workloads. The nine-month contract is valued at $1 million, if all options are exercised.

With the additional funding, Charles River engineers will build SEAHAWK on its Sherlock platform, which is designed to prototype solutions based on physiological, neurological, and behavioral state.


The SEAHAWK has four components:

  • Sensor Suite with near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), physiological monitors, and eye-tracking
  • Data Processing, Fusion, and Interpretation Engine that uses statistical and probabilistic modeling techniques to extract, fuse, and process indicators of physical and cognitive workload
  • Expertise Tracking and Prediction Engine that predicts the impact of practice and advancing expertise
  • Custom-designed user interface to display results

SEAHAWK will give engineers the capability to accurately evaluate the physical and cognitive workload imposed by new technologies developed for Naval Aircrew, and to forecast changes in workload as Aircrew become more expert at using the new tech.

“The Navy is always developing new technologies to improve warfighting effectiveness,” explains Dr. Bethany Bracken, Senior Scientist at Charles River. “Aircrew learning to use these technologies risk being overloaded by the associated physical and cognitive demands, which can degrade their performance. Before they invest millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of training into a new system, SEAHAWK lets them unobtrusively and objectively assess not just the current cognitive burden of the system under development, but also what the physical and cognitive workload would be after Aircrew were fully trained to be experts on the system.”


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