Evolving interface design for robot search tasks



This paper describes two steps in the evolution of human-robot interaction designs developed by the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) and the Idaho National Laboratory to support urban search and rescue tasks. Usability tests were conducted to compare the two interfaces, one of which emphasized three-dimensional mapping while the other design emphasized the video feed. We found that participants desired a combination of the interface design approaches. As a result, the UML system was changed to augment its heavy emphasis on video with a map view of the area immediately around the robot. The changes were tested in a follow-up user study and the results from that experiment suggest that performance, as measured by the number of collisions with objects in the environment and time on task, is better with the new interaction techniques. Throughout the paper, we describe how we applied human-computer interaction principles and techniques to benefit the evolution of the human-robot interaction designs. While the design work is situated in the urban search and rescue domain, the results can be generalized to domains that involve other search or monitoring tasks using remotely located robots. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.