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User studies on teleoperation of robots for plant inspection

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Purpose ‐ To avoid harm to humans, environment, and capital goods, hazardous or explosive gases that are possibly escaping from industrial and infrastructure facilities of the gas and oil processing industry have to be detected and located quickly and reliably. Project RoboGasInspector aims at the development and evaluation of a human-robot system that applies autonomous robots equipped with remote gas detection devices to detect and locate gas leaks. This article aims to focus on the usability of telemanipulation in this context. Design/methodology/approach ‐ This paper presents four user studies concerning human-robot interfaces for teleoperation in industrial inspection tasks. Their purpose is to resolve contradictory scientific findings regarding aspects of teleoperation and to verify functionality, usability, and technology acceptance of the designed solution in the actual context of use. Therefore, aspects concerning teleoperation that were separately examined before are evaluated in an integrated way. Considered aspects are influence of media technology on telepresence, simulator sickness and head slaved camera control, usability of different input devices for telemanipulation, and identification of intuitive gestures for teleoperation of mobile robots. Findings ‐ In general, the implemented interaction concepts perform better compared to conventional ones used in contemporary, actually applied robot systems. Otherwise, reasons are analyzed and approaches for further improvements are discussed. Exemplary results are given for each study. Originality/value ‐ The solution combines several technical approaches that are so far separately examined. Each approach is transferred to the innovative domain of industrial inspections and its applicability in this context is verified. New findings give design recommendations for remote workplaces of robot operators.
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Keywords: Inspection; Man/machine interface; Teleoperation; Telepresence

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 14, 2014

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