New paper accepted for publication in the Proceedings of the 2016 IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (Ro-Man 2016)

The paper entitled Haptic Wrist Guidance Using Vibrations for Human-Robot Teams has been accepted for publication in the proceedings of the 2016 IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN). In this work, we exploit haptic signals in a heterogeneous human-robot formation for guiding the user’s wrist towards a location desired by the robot. Possible applications of such model can be in Urban-Search-And-Rescue (USAR) situations, where robots may be able to enter disaster sites too dangerous or too difficult for humans to get to. Once there, robots can gather information about the situation, providing human operators with video feeds, maps, and sensor data.

Concept
Haptic Wrist Guidance Using Vibrations for Human-Robot Teams – Concept

The human operator is tracked by the robot, and is equipped with a vibro-tactile armband that informs her/him about the desired location, guiding the user with vibrations using the concept of the so-called virtual magnet.

In this work, we take advantage of a haptic armband with only four vibrating motors. Different vibration patterns are used to guide the human wrist motion. The use of a single armband guarantees high wearability and portability of the system, while reducing power consumption and increasing the total autonomy. To prove the reliability of the guidance with a vibrating armband, we use an external tracking system instead of a camera on-board the robot.

Armband
Haptic Wrist Guidance Using Vibrations for Human-Robot Teams – Haptic armband

The desired position is represented by a sphere of radius r in a three-dimensional space. The proposed framework has been tested with seven subjects in two possible guiding scenarios: point-to-point and trajectory guidance. In the former evaluation, each of the participant was able to reach the eight desired wrist positions, whereas for the trajectory guidance, all participants were able to complete the task (shaping a vertical eight-shaped figure in a 3D space).

Results
Haptic Wrist Guidance Using Vibrations for Human-Robot Teams – Results

The proposed system can be exploited in human-robot teams. The haptic communication channel can be used an effective way to let a robots display a target position or a desired path to a human mate. We are currently integrating the tracking system in a mobile robot. We are also investigating solutions to suggest the orientation of the wrist in addition to the 3-D position.

M. Aggravi, S. Salvietti, D. Prattichizzo. Haptic Wrist Guidance Using Vibrations for Human-Robot Teams. In Proc. IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication. In Press, 2016.

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