Levels of Automation Taxonomy

A taxonomy to classify automation in all domains.

A framework to guide the analysis and design of human performance automation support


The LOAT was originally developed in the context of the SESAR Programme, by analyzing 26 different automated functionalities for the Air Traffic Control and the flight crew.


It was the basis to develop a set of Automation Design Principles in the context of the Project 16.5.1 ‘Identification and Integration of Automation Related Good Practices’.


Deep Blue developed the new taxonomy while coordinating the project on Automation Related Good Practice on behalf of ENAV. Other partners contributing to the project were Airbus France, EUROCONTROL, DFS, THALES, AENA and NATMIG.


We were initially facing with difficulties in applying existing models to concrete automation examples and we decided to transform these difficulties in an opportunity. We combined solid theoretical foundations with concrete experiences of automation support and we came up with a taxonomy of automation levels capable of covering virtually all cases. 


NAME 16.5.1 ‘Identification and Integration of Automation Related Good Practices’
DURATION 2013 - 2015?
CONTACTS luca.save@dblue.it



The LOAT is a matrix combining four psychomotor functions (information acquisition, information analysis, decision and action selection, action implementation) with different automation levels, where the level ‘zero’ represents manual operations and the higher levels identify increasing automation interventions.


Combined with a dedicated set of automation principles, the LOAT can be used to compare different design options in order to determine the optimal automation level in all operational contexts.


After its development in SESAR, different stakeholders both inside and outside the ATM domain have adopted the taxonomy.

  • The UK Civil Aviation Authority has included it in its Guidance on Human-Technology Integration.
  • The SESAR Exploratory Research Project ALIAS has included it in its liability attribution scheme to determine responsibilities in case of accident.
  • Some member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and of the International Association of Drilling Contractors have proposed its introduction in the Oil & Gas domain.


  • The best level of automation depends on the capabilities of the automation itself and on the operational context in which it is included.

    You can use the LOAT to orient yourself in these choices.

  • The highest level of automation it is not always the best one.

    Finding the right level helps to make sure that you are taking full benefit from it, without being negatively affected by side effects, such us nuisance alerts or erroneous directions.

  • A common taxonomy for different domains will enhance cross-fertilisation and a shared approach to automation design

    The LOAT has been developed in the Air Traffic Management domain but is applicable to all domains in which automation plays an important role in sustaining human performance.


Designing Human-Automation Interaction: a new level of Automation Taxonomy.

In De Waard, D., Brookhuis, K., Dehais, F., Weikert, C., Röttger, S., Manzey, D., Biede, S., Reuzeau, F., and Terrier, P. (Eds.) (2012), Human Factors: a view from an integrative perspective. Available as open source download. ISBN 978-0-945289-44-9

Not all or nothing, not all the same: classifying automation in practice.

EUROCONTROL Hindsight (issue n. 20), December 2014. HindSight is a bi-annual magazine produced for air traffic controllers by the EUROCONTROL Safety Improvement Sub-Group (SISG). This issue was dedicated to Safety and Automation


CAA UK Safety and Airspace Regulation Group (2016).

ATM Automation: Guidance on human-technology integration.

De Wardt J.P., Sheridan T.B., Di Fiore A. (2016)

Human Systems Integration: Key Enabler for Improved Driller Performance and Successful Automation Application