Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect on time to complete a task depending on how a human operator interacts with a mobile-robot. Interaction is investigated using two tele-operated mobile-robot systems, three different ways of interacting with robots and several different environments. The speed of a tele-operator in completing progressively more complicated driving tasks is investigated also.
Design/methodology/approach – Tele-operators are timed completing a series of tasks using a joystick to control a mobile-robot. They either watch the robot while operating it, or sit at a computer and view scenes remotely on a screen. Cameras are either mounted on the robot, or so that they view both the environment and robot. Tele-operators complete tests both with and without sensors. One robot system uses an umbilical cable and one uses a radio link.
Findings – In simple environments, a tele-operator may perform better without a sensor system to assist them but in more complicated environments then a tele-operator may perform better with a sensor system to assist. Tele-operators may also tend to perform better with a radio link than with an umbilical connection. Tele-operators sometimes perform better with a camera mounted on the robot compared with pre-mounted cameras observing the environment (but that depends on tasks being performed).
Research limitations/implications – Tele-operated systems rely heavily on visual feedback and experienced operators. This paper investigates how to make tasks easier.
Practical implications – The paper suggests that the amount of sensor support should be varied depending on circumstances.
Originality/value – Results show that human tele-operators perform better without the assistance of a sensor systems in simple environments.