Postdoctoral associate, MIT
Swarms of robots will revolutionize many industrial applications, from targeted material delivery to precision farming. Controlling the motion and behavior of these swarms presents unique challenges for human operators, who cannot yet effectively convey their high-level intentions to a group of robots in application. This research proposes a new human-swarm interface based on novel wearable gesture-control and haptic-feedback devices.
Abstract: Micro- and nanorobotics have the potential to revolutionize many applications including targeted material delivery, assembly, and surgery. The same properties that promise breakthrough solutions---small size and large populations---present unique challenges to generating controlled motion. We want to use large swarms of robots to perform manipulation tasks; unfortunately, human-swarm interaction studies as conducted today are limited in sample size, are difficult to reproduce, and are prone to hardware failures. We present an alternative. This paper examines the perils, pitfalls, and possibilities we discovered by launching SwarmControl.net, an online game where players steer swarms of up to 500 robots to complete manipulation challenges. We record statistics from thousands of players, and use the game to explore aspects of large-population robot control. We present the game framework as a new, open-source tool for large-scale user experiments. Our results have potential applications in human control of micro- and nanorobots, supply insight for automatic controllers, and provide a template for large online robotic research experiments.
Pub.: 15 Feb '14, Pinned: 21 Aug '17
Abstract: This work presents a novel marriage of Swarm Robotics and Brain Computer Interface technology to produce an interface which connects a user to a swarm of robots. The proposed interface enables the user to control the swarm's size and motion employing just thoughts and eye movements. The thoughts and eye movements are recorded as electrical signals from the scalp by an off-the-shelf Electroencephalogram (EEG) headset. Signal processing techniques are used to filter out noise and decode the user's eye movements from raw signals, while a Hidden Markov Model technique is employed to decipher the user's thoughts from filtered signals. The dynamics of the robots are controlled using a swarm controller based on potential fields. The shape and motion parameters of the potential fields are modulated by the human user through the brain-swarm interface to move the robots. The method is demonstrated experimentally with a human controlling a swarm of three M3pi robots in a laboratory environment, as well as controlling a swarm of 128 robots in a computer simulation.
Pub.: 23 Dec '16, Pinned: 21 Aug '17
Abstract: We study the psychophysiological state of humans when exposed to robot groups of varying sizes. In our experiments, 24 participants are exposed sequentially to groups of robots made up of 1, 3 and 24 robots. We measure both objective physiological metrics (skin conductance level and heart rate), and subjective self-reported metrics (from a psychological questionnaire). These measures allow us to analyse the psychophysiological state (stress, anxiety, happiness) of our participants. Our results show that the number of robots to which a human is exposed has a significant impact on the psychophysiological state of the human and that higher numbers of robots provoke a stronger response.
Pub.: 22 Jun '16, Pinned: 21 Aug '17
Abstract: Swarms of robots will revolutionize many industrial applications, from targeted material delivery to precision farming. Controlling the motion and behavior of these swarms presents unique challenges for human operators, who cannot yet effectively convey their high-level intentions to a group of robots in application. This work proposes a new human-swarm interface based on novel wearable gesture-control and haptic-feedback devices. This work seeks to combine a wearable gesture recognition device that can detect high-level intentions, a portable device that can detect Cartesian information and finger movements, and a wearable advanced haptic device that can provide real-time feedback. This project is the first to envisage a wearable Human-Swarm Interaction (HSI) interface that separates the input and feedback components of the classical control loop (input, output, feedback), as well as being the first of its kind suitable for both indoor and outdoor environments.
Pub.: 26 Apr '17, Pinned: 21 Aug '17