Enhanced Teleoperation Through Virtual Reality Techniques
Teleoperation effectiveness was almost stagnant during several decades since the discovery of the master-slave structure by Goertz in the 50s; in spite of some technical improvements and computer developments . Recent advances on virtual reality (VR) techniques can be considered as the additional ingredient to the total telerobotic renewal, and novel architectures could be developed. Its efficiency is reaching now a considerable level of achievements. It allows a clear improvement in traditional applications such as nuclear or space activities and it also opens many new fields of application, where teleoperation represents a major percentage of robotic development. Build on previous state-of-the-art reports [2, 3, 4], this chapter reviews up-to-date achievements applying virtual reality techniques to teleoperation: we recall some relevant achievements of VR in solving difficult teleoperation problems such as time delay, operator assistance and sharing robot autonomy by combining different supervision strategies or allowing new human-centred teleoperation schemes. The chapter also discusses new robotic applications that have currently appeared which require additional research efforts and call additional investigations on virtual reality techniques. Among them we can find micro- and nano-teleoperation eventually of livings such us cells and DNA molecules, teleoperation of humanoids and animaloids, teleoperation of unmanned air or terrestrial vehicles, hi-fidelity telepresence, multi-operator multirobots teleoperation, etc. These are exemplified along with their specific challenges.
Virtual reality techniques paved a path in telerobotics thanks to its potential in solving classical problems of early master-slave bilateral coupling schemes. Fortunately, it has been surprisingly noticed that these techniques can offer different solutions in solving a certain problem. For instance, teleoperation time delay has been solved using either predictive displays or teleprogramming; both methods are devised from VR techniques. Moreover, there are several styles and approaches to implement each method. This variety of VR applications makes difficult to infer standard VR-assisted teleoperation architecture. Nevertheless, this difficulty constitutes paradoxically a main strength and cleverness. Next section is therefore focused -without being exhaustive- on the soundest ideas to enhance teleoperation through VR techniques.
KeywordsVirtual Reality Virtual Environment Augmented Reality Humanoid Robot Force Feedback
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