Teleoperation, which is the control of remote robots, can
be used to accomplish a great number of tasks that are too remote, highly
scaled, or hazardous for direct human manipulation. It is particularly
advantageous in unstructured environments, where completely autonomous
robotic systems cannot be used due to the limitations of artificial
intelligence, sensor data interpretation, and environment modeling.
"Bilateral telemanipulation" typically refers to a teleoperation system
where a human operator manipulates a "master" robotic device, and a "slave"
device emulates the behavior of the master, with some form of haptic (force
and/or tactile) feedback to the operator. Although haptic feedback can
improve performance of telemanipulated tasks, traditional teleoperation
systems are not able to provide any intelligent assistance to the human
operator. Thus, we are developing novel human-machine collaborative control
laws, called "virtual fixtures," which bridge the gap between strictly
autonomous and strictly teleoperated systems. The term "virtual fixture"
refers to a general class of guidance modes, implemented in software, that
help a human-machine collaborative system perform a task by limiting
movement into restricted regions and/or influencing movement along desired
paths. The potential benefit of virtual fixtures is safer and faster
operation. Virtual fixtures attempt to capitalize on the accuracy of robotic
systems, while maintaining a degree of operator control.
I worked with
master/slave teleoperators. In telemanipulation, a user operates a robot
that is at some distant location (it could be thousands of miles, or in the
same room). In master/slave telemanipulation, rather that controlling the
distant (slave) robot with a joystick or a keyboard, the user moves an
identical (or at least similar) master robot, and the slave then follows its