Dr. Peter Adrian Hancock

Inducted October 2019

Since the late 1970’s Professor Peter Hancock has been at the forefront of Modelling and Simulation. His early work on modeling physiological systems helped pioneer closed-loop, computer-based simulation of human response in extreme environments. This work found its final, practical fruition in its influence on and expression in National and International Standards for Occupational Stress Exposure, particularly related to the thermal environment. Such was the international impact of this research that Professor Hancock was named only the 13th Honorary Member of the American Society for Heating, Radiation and Air-Conditioning Engineers, (ASHRAE) a Society founded in the late nineteenth century and whose previous twelve Honorary Members include an ex-President of the United States and whose most recent honoree is Bill Gates.

Over more than forty years of his professional career, Professor Hancock has conducted multiple research projects for all branches of the U.S. military. His work for the U.S. Air Force on dynamic function allocation, as enacted in full simulation and actual flight missions, helped influence the founding of the Augmented Cognitive Society. His contributions were recognized when he was named the winner of the Admiral Leland Kollmorgan Award of that society for his pioneering efforts in helping improve the safety and performance capacities of single-seat fighter pilots through extensive use of both system and human operator modeling and simulation.

Professor Hancock received the first ever Grant Award of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to investigate the effects of en-route, self-separation (free-flight) on commercial flight operations. In such work, Professor Hancock built a working, simulation-based model of the whole United States airspace and evaluated the effects of procedural change using professional pilots whose fly-by-wire cockpit experience exceeded 15,000 flying hours on average.

Results from this work demonstrated an awareness of incipient ‘time-to-contact’ in experienced pilots whose sphere of situation awareness was triggered at three minutes to contact with another, independent of approach angle or trajectory (e.g., crossing, in-trail, head-on, etc.). This principle has now been used to help calculate indices of dynamic operational density to inform cockpit-based collision detection algorithms such as TCAS. Professor Hancock’s work in this arena has especially informed new visions of Airspace operations as encoded in the NexGen vision.

Perhaps Professor Hancock’s most profound contribution to modeling and simulation lies in ground transportation research in which he was the first to link together two, full-vehicle based ground simulation facilities in order to test inter-driver responses to incipient collision conditions. In doing so, he helped pioneer computer-based, information exchange protocols to allow for real time interaction between two different human drivers in two distinct facilities.

He helped design and then create such a multi-simulation data-sharing architecture which allowed for mutual interaction of human operators in real-time (i.e., data information exchange lag between each system for the commonly drawn environments as less than 5ms). He then tested reactions to conflicts derived from innovative use of these simulated environments to specify how individuals avoided each other (or did not) in the last vital seconds before collision. It was the first-time portraitures of these crucial behavioral responses could be plotted safely in the innovative creation of the mutually simulated environments.

This research resulted in recommendations for collision avoidance resolutions in driver training, a strategy that is still recommended and taught in many driver training facilities. For this work, Professor Hancock was awarded both the Liberty Mutual Prize (an open international competition for innovative and impactful research in safety) and then subsequently the Liberty Mutual Medal (a competition between the three winners of the Liberty Mutual Award over the previous three years) for these innovative and impactful findings.

In ground transportation also, Professor Hancock led the behavioral team that first used full-vehicle, wrap-around 360-degree simulation to create innovative roadway designs which were then driven in these simulation facilities to assess driver response to proposed roadway changes. This was the first ever use of dynamic simulation to create electronic roadway design that could be fully tested on human drivers before implementation took place.

Changes recommended by Professor Hancock’s Laboratory were then subsequently enact by the Department of Transportation in Minnesota (MN/DOT) to actually design and re-design their State roadways. Essentially, Professor Hancock was the first to use driver-based reactions in simulation to advise, revise and enact roadway design. This project received the Minnesota Partnership Award for Innovations in interdisciplinary achievement.

As well as these innovations in ground transportation, Professor Hancock pioneered the use of virtual reality (VR) systems to explore human behavioral capacities in computer-mediate worlds. He purchased the third ever operational set of VPL Eye-Phones to support this work. As cited in the National Academy Report (Virtual Reality: Scientific and Technological Challenges, 1995), Professor Hancock published the first ever work on transfer of training from virtual reality to actual operational conditions (although due to an excessive publication lag the recorded publication date does not reflect the study completion date!)

Among his pedagogical achievements, Professor Hancock directed and graduated the first ever successful Ph.D candidate at the University of Central Florida who conducted early, and innovative work on augmented reality (AR). Given the pioneering nature of UCF’s Modeling and Simulation program, such a graduate may be among the very first (if not actually the first) individuals to receive the Doctorate Degree from any Institution with this specialization in M&S.

Professor Hancock was the winner of the Annual Medin Lecture Award from the Institute for Simulation and Training, prior to his joining the University of Central Florida in 2001. Since that time, he has been a member of IST, graduating many students at both the masters and doctoral levels. He is a Fellow of Eleven Scientific Societies including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the American Psychological Association, among many others. He is a past-president and Fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES), the Society for Engineering Psychology (SEP) and the Society for Human Performance in Extreme Environments (HPEE).

He has published over 1,000 books, refereed journal articles and conference papers, chapters and research reports. In 2017 he was honored as only the 28th Honorary Member of the Institute for Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE).