Teleoperation for Mobile Manipulation

Force Feedback Teleoperation on Performing Hygiene Tasks

We expect that haptic teleoperation of compliant arms would be especially important for assistive robots that are designed to help older adults and persons with disabilities perform activities of daily living (ADL). Research has shown that brushing teeth, shaving, cleaning and washing are high priority hygiene tasks for people with disabilities. We describe a teleoperated assistive robot that uses compliant arms and provides force feedback to the operator. We also present one of the first user studies to look at how force feedback and arm stiffness influence task performance when teleoperating a very low stiffness arm.

Teleoperation System

The teleoperation system consists of a master console and a slave robot. The slave robot is Cody (Fig. 1a) and we designed and attached a flat, 3D-printed, spatula-like end effector (Fig. 1b) to resemble an extended human hand. We attached white board eraser felt to the bottom of this end effector. The master console (Fig. 1c) consists of two PCs and a pair of PHANToM Omni (Sensable Technology) haptic interfaces that provide force feedback in position only.


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Force Feedback Teleoperation of Cody to perform a Cleaning Task: An operator teleoperating Cody to perform a simulated hygiene task by cleaning dry-erase marks off a mannequin.

Effects of Force Feedback and Arm Compliance on Teleoperation

We conducted a pilot study to investigate the effects of force feedback and arm compliance on the performance of a simulated hygiene task. In this study, each subject (n=12) teleoperated a compliant arm to clean dry-erase marks off a mannequin with or without force feedback, and with lower or higher stiffness settings for the robot’s arm. Under all four conditions, subjects successfully removed the dry-erase marks, but trials performed with stiffer settings were completed significantly faster. The presence of force feedback significantly reduced the mean contact force, although the trials took significantly longer. Refer to the publications for a more detailed information:


The mean contact forces for each block: FC block uses the compliant arm with force feedback; FS block uses the stiffer arm with force feedback; NC block uses the com- pliant arm without feedback; and NS block uses the stiffer arm without feedback. Error bars show standard error of the mean. Bars with the same letter were not significantly different, while A and B were (p<0.01).


Histogram of the mean completion time: all trials with force feedback (FB) ver- sus without force feedback (No FB); all trials using the compliant setting (Comp) versus trials using the stiffer setting (Stiff). Error bars show standard error of the mean.




Our work is generously supported in part by the NSF grant IIS-0705130.



HumAnS Lab