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Mixed-Initiative variable autonomy for remotely operated mobile robots

by   Manolis Chiou, et al.

This paper presents an expert-guided Mixed-Initiative (MI) variable-autonomy controller for remotely operated mobile robots. The controller enables switching between different Level(s) of Autonomy (LOA) during task execution initiated by either the human operator or/and the robot. The controller is evaluated in two Search and Rescue (SAR) inspired experiments, one with a simulated robot and test arena and one with a real robot in a realistic environment. Our hypothesis is that timely switching between different LOAs will enable the system to overcome various performance degrading factors and thus enable superior performance compared to systems in which LOAs cannot switch on-the-fly. Statistically validated analyses from the two experiments provide evidence that: a) Human-Initiative (HI) systems outperform purely teleoperated or autonomous systems in navigation tasks; b) MI systems provide improved performance in navigation tasks, improved operator performance in cognitive demanding secondary tasks, and improved operator workload. Results also reinforce previous Human-Robot interaction (HRI) evidence regarding the importance of the operator's personality traits and their trust in the autonomous system. Lastly, the paper provides empirical evidence that identify two major challenges for MI control: a) the design of context-aware MI controllers; and b) the conflict for control between the robot and the operator.


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