Comparing ability to complete simple tele-operated rescue or maintenance mobile-robot tasks with and without a sensor system

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    Abstract

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect on completion of mobile-robot tasks depending on how a human tele-operator interacts with a sensor system and a mobile-robot. Design/methodology/approach – Interaction is investigated using two mobile-robot systems, three different ways of interacting with the robots and several different environments of increasing complexity. In each case, the operation is investigated with and without sensor systems to assist an operator to move a robot through narrower and narrower gaps and in completing progressively more complicated driving tasks. Tele-operators used a joystick and either watched the robot while operating it, or sat at a computer and viewed scenes remotely on a screen. Cameras are either mounted on the robot to view the space ahead of the robot or mounted remotely so that they viewed both the environment and robot. Every test is compared with sensor systems engaged and with them disconnected. Findings – A main conclusion is that human tele-operators perform better without the assistance of sensor systems in simple environments and in those cases it may be better to switch-off the sensor systems or reduce their effect. In addition, tele-operators sometimes performed better with a camera mounted on the robot compared with pre-mounted cameras observing the environment (but that depended on tasks being performed). Research limitations/implications – Tele-operators completed tests both with and without sensors. One robot system used an umbilical cable and one used a radio link. Practical implications – The paper quantifies the difference between tele-operation control and sensor-assisted control when a robot passes through narrow passages. This could be an useful information when system designers decide if a system should be tele-operated, automatic or sensor-assisted. The paper suggests that in simple environments then the amount of sensor support should be small but in more complicated environments then more sensor support needs to be provided. Originality/value – The paper investigates the effect of completing mobile-robot tasks depending on whether a human tele-operator uses a sensor system or not and how they interact with the sensor system and the mobile-robot. The paper presents the results from investigations using two mobile-robot systems, three different ways of interacting with the robots and several different environments of increasing complexity. The change in the ability of a human operator to complete progressively more complicated driving tasks with and without a sensor system is presented and the human tele-operators performed better without the assistance of sensor systems in simple environments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)40-50
    Number of pages11
    JournalSensor Review
    Volume30
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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