Self-reconfigurable Modular Robot Interface Using Virtual Reality: Arrangement of Furniture Made Out of Roombots Modules

Valentin Nigolian, Mehmet Mutlu, Simon Hauser, Alexandre Bernardino, Auke Ijspeert
IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN), Lisbon, Portugal, 28 Aug.-1 Sept. 2017

Self-reconfigurable modular robots (SRMR) offer high flexibility in task space by adopting different morphologies for different tasks. Using the same simple module, complex and more capable morphologies can be built. However, increasing the number of modules increases the degrees of freedom (DOF) of the system. Thus, controlling the system as a whole becomes harder. Indeed, even a 10 DOFs system is difficult to consider and manipulate. Intuitive and easy to use interfaces are needed, particularly when modular robots need to interact with humans. In this study we present an interface to assemble desired structures and placement of such structures, with a focus on the assembly process. Roombots modules, a particular SRMR design, are used for the demonstration of the proposed interface. Two non-conventional input/output devices – a head mounted display and hand tracking system – are added to the system to enhance the user experience. Finally, a user study was conducted to evaluate the interface. The results show that most users enjoyed their experience. However, they were not necessarily convinced by the gesture control, most likely for technical reasons.

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