Collaborative Task Execution between a Human Operator and Group of Aerial Robots

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Antonio Franchi
Phone: +49 7071 601 218
Fax: +49 7071 601 616

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Shared Control of Multiple Aerial Vehicles

The focus of this research project is to study new ways to let multiple-robot systems and humans co-operate in an effective way by adopting a shared control approach.
The main research objectives are:
•    empowering robots with the needed autonomy in order to facilitate the co-operation with the human side for accomplishing some shared task
•    allowing a human user to effectively be in control of some aspects of the task
The overall system, as depicted in Fig.1, is composed of several elements:
•    one or multiple groups of robots, that coordinately execute a task. The implementation is totally distributed, thus requiring
•    onboard computational units (GNU-Linux PC Board)
•    onboard sensors (Inertial Measurement Unit, Camera, etc.)
•    inter-robot communication infrastructure
•    one or multiple human operators that interact with the robots. The interface with the robots is composed of several elements
•    control interfaces, used to provide the commands (joypads), to receive a feedback from the task execution (monitor for visual feedback), or to combine both things (tablets, actuated devices with force-feedback).
•    a communication channel to connect with the robots. The network can be used for inter-continental teleoperation.
•    external sensors, when present, can provide additional information (for example a vicon camera system)

The infrastructure for the coordinated control system includes TeleKyb, a software framework that provides a standardized interface for control algorithm development and testing (Fig. 2).
TeleKyb abstracts several aspects of control, such as
•    StateEstimator
•    Robot Controllers
•    Behaviors
•    Trajectory Modules (observe, process or modifiy the Trajectory Message produced by the currently active Behavior)
Telekyb is based on the Robot Operating System (ROS), which mainly takes care of inter-process communication, as well as of dynamic loading of modules at runtime. Additionally, ROS provides a large library of software related to robot control that can easily be integrated with TeleKyb.
One application of the shared control is depicted in Fig.2. In this case, the robots should keep a desired formation with position, scale and rotation along a vertical axis controlled by a human operator. Each robot is equipped with an onboard camera and a processing board that are used to retrieve the relative orientation with respect to the other agents. Finally, a distributed controller that uses these measures is implemented to regulate the formation.

Selected Publication

Franchi A Person, Secchi C , Son HI Person, Bülthoff HH Person and Robuffo Giordano P Person (October-2012) Bilateral Teleoperation of Groups of Mobile Robots with Time-Varying Topology IEEE Transaction on Robotics 28(5) 1019-1033.
Franchi A Person, Secchi C , Ryll M Person, Bülthoff HH Person and Robuffo Giordano P Person (September-2012) Shared Control: Balancing Autonomy and Human Assistance with a Group of Quadrotor UAVs IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine 19(3) 57-68.

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Last updated: Monday, 05.08.2013