2017 Poster Sessions : Design and Evaluation of a Virtual Tether for Mobile Robot-Human Interaction

Student Name : Yuhang Che
Advisor : None
Research Areas: Artificial Intelligence
We present the design and evaluation of a virtual tether system that facilitates communication between a person and a mobile robot that follows the person. Many real- world environments have moving obstacles and visual occlusions, and are challenging for a robot to navigate fully autonomously. The virtual tether can establish two-way communication that provides the robot’s status to the user and enables the user to direct the robot when necessary (e.g., when the robot fails to follow the user due to unexpected obstacles). The tether system consists of a haptic interface that displays touch cues to convey the robot’s status via asymmetric vibration and a command interface for teleoperating the robot follower. The robot autonomously follows a user and communicates with the user via the haptic interface when it becomes stuck, and then the user can direct the robot with the command interface to resolve the problem. We tested the virtual tether system in two sets of user studies with a physical robot follower. Results show that users have better performance on their tasks, respond to robot failure events faster, and adjust walking speed according to the robot’s limitations with the tether system. We also demonstrate that the users can successfully teleoperate the robot to avoid obstacles when navigating in challenging environments.

Yuhang Che received the B.S. degree from Shang- hai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, China, and Pur- due University, West Lafayette, IN, and the M.S. degree from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, all in Mechanical Engineering. He is currently working to- ward the Doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. His research interests include human robot interaction, autonomous robotics, robot perception and sensing, teleoperation, and haptics.