© 2020 by the authors. Li-censee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Teleoperated systems enable human control of robotic proxies and are particularly amenable to inaccessible environments unsuitable for autonomy. Examples include emergency response, underwater manipulation, and robot assisted minimally invasive surgery. However, teleoperation architectures have been predominantly employed in manipulation tasks, and are thus only useful when the robot is within reach of the task. This work introduces the idea of extending teleoperation to enable online human remote control of legged robots, or telelocomotion, to traverse challenging terrain. Traversing unpredictable terrain remains a challenge for autonomous legged locomotion, as demonstrated by robots commonly falling in high-profile robotics contests. Telelocomotion can reduce the risk of mission failure by leveraging the high-level understanding of human operators to command in real-time the gaits of legged robots. In this work, a haptic telelocomotion interface was developed. Two within-user studies validate the proof-of-concept interface: (i) The first compared basic interfaces with the haptic interface for control of a simulated hexapedal robot in various levels of traversal complexity; (ii) the second presents a physical implementation and investigated the efficacy of the proposed haptic virtual fixtures. Results are promising to the use of haptic feedback for telelocomotion for complex traversal tasks.
Applied Sciences (Switzerland)