The Robot Operating System (ROS) provides roboticists with a standardized and distributed framework for real-time communication between robotic systems using a microkernel environment. This paper looks at how ROS metadata, Unified Robot Description Format (URDF), Semantic Robot Description Format (SRDF), and its message description language, can be used to identify key robot characteristics to inform User Interface (UI) design for the teleoperation of heterogeneous robot teams. Logical relationships between UI components and robot characteristics are defined by a set of relationship rules created using relevant and available information including developer expertise and ROS metadata. This provides a significant opportunity to move towards a rule-driven approach for generating the designs of teleoperation UIs; in particular the reduction of the number of different UI configurations required to teleoperate each individual robot within a heterogeneous robot team. This approach is based on using an underlying rule set identifying robots that can be teleoperated using the same UI configuration due to having the same or similar robot characteristics. Aside from reducing the number of different UI configurations an operator needs to be familiar with, this approach also supports consistency in UI configurations when a teleoperator is periodically switching between different robots. To achieve this aim, a Matlab toolbox is developed providing users with the ability to define rules specifying the relationship between robot characteristics and UI components. Once rules are defined, selections that best describe the characteristics of the robot type within a particular heterogeneous robot team can be made. A main advantage of this approach is that rather than specifying discrete robots comprising the team, the user can specify characteristics of the team more generally allowing the system to deal with slight variations that may occur in the future. In fact, by using the defined relationship rules and characteristic selections, the toolbox can automatically identify a reduced set of UI configurations required to control possible robot team configurations, as opposed to the traditional ad-hoc approach to teleoperation UI design. In the results section, three test cases are presented to demonstrate how the selection of different robot characteristics builds a number of robot characteristic combinations, and how the relationship rules are used to determine a reduced set of required UI configurations needed to control each individual robot in the robot team.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited