The main objective of this project is to develop the technology to allow a small number (one or more) of operators to a control multiple teams of robots in a variety of applications and to demonstrate this technology in one or more application areas. This technology will be able to be widely applied to multiple situations where human operators need to provide oversight and control of teams of semi-autonomous robotic vehicles.
The technical basis of our approach requires integration of two technologies: organizational control and multiple robot-human interactions. Our organizational control approach is based on the organizational model of teamwork and is under development by Dr. DeLoach and Dr. Gustafson. A third member of this research team, Dr. Julie Adams at Vanderbilt University, is currently studying multiple robot-human interaction techniques. DeLoach created an organizational model that defines the elements of adaptive, goal-oriented teams. With this information, robot teams can organize at runtime to achieve its goals in the most effective and efficient manner. Adams has been involved in developing interfaces that allow a human operator to control teams of robots.
The effectiveness of this approach will be demonstrated in a two-phase approach. We are currently developing simulated and real-world demonstration prototypes to allow a team of cooperative robots to get into formation, move to a point following a set of waypoints, traverse danger areas, and ultimately perform area reconnaissance before returning home. The goal of Phase I is to integrate a human into the cooperative robotic team to allow the human to control the team as a supervisor using organizational control. This requires extending DeLoach’s organization model to allow capturing different types of user roles and capabilities and the development of techniques for providing appropriate human-robot interaction techniques. New capabilities must also be developed for the real-world robots in vision processing, multiple sensors, and interaction with humans in performance of the search, monitor and detect activities. In Phase II, the organizational control will be implemented and demonstrated using all terrain research robots in a more realistic setting with the role of humans being expanded to include that of operator and as a peer. Additionally, different approaches, such as gaming, that allow the human operator to visualize/verify the organizational changes will be investigated.
This project was funded by the US Marine Corp and completed in 2010.