Evaluation and Performance Modeling of User Interfaces for UGVs

Principal Investigator: Dawn Tilbury, University of Michigan, tilbury(at)umich.edu
Student: Steve Vozar, University of Michigan
Government: Paul Muensch, U.S. Army TARDEC
Industry: David Handelman, Intelligent Automation
Mitch Rohde, Quantum Signal

Despite recent advances in robot autonomy, human-in-the-loop interaction (including direct and advanced forms of teleoperation) remains an integral part of many mobile robot tasks. In situations where it is hazardous or difficult for humans to be present, but which require human judgment and decision-making skills, the use of a human teleoperator is the only option. However, most teleoperated tasks cannot be performed at a reasonable speed, not generally limited by actuator speeds, but by other bottlenecks.

Traditionally, UGVs are teleoperated with a joystick. A camera based on the UGV provides real-time video feedback to the operator. When there is no direct line-of-sight from the operator to the UGV, the operator can get disoriented and lose perspective, making teleoperation challenging. Prior research with either a mobile robot or a fixed manipulator has shown that adding augmented reality to the video feed can improve teleoperation performance. Our work thus far in this project has demonstrated through a preliminary set of user tests that this is also true for a mobile manipulator.

There are many different ways to present augmented reality views to the user, and many different modalities for the user to control both the UGV and the augmented video feed.To enhance situational awareness, we are also using a virtual reality view of the remote robot that can be manipulated to give a bird’s eye view of the robot, a close-up of the manipulator, or many other useful views. The goal of this project is to develop models that can be used to characterize and predict user performance under different teleoperation scenarios, with different input and output devices.


  • S. Vozar and D. M. Tilbury, “Augmented Reality User Interface for Mobile Ground Robots with Manipulator Arms,” Proceedings of the IS&T/SPIE Electronic Imaging Conference, San Francisco, January 2011. DOI:10.1117/12.876591
  • S. Vozar and D. M. Tilbury, “Improving UGV teleoperation performance
using novel visualization techniques and manual interfaces”, Proceedings of SPIE Volume 8387, Unmanned Systems Technology XIV, Baltimore, May 2012. DOI:10.1117/12.918700
  • S. Vozar and D. M. Tilbury, “Augmented Reality User Interface for Mobile Robots with Manipulator Arms: Development, Testing, and Qualitative Analysis,” Proceedings of the ASME-IDETC/CIE, Chicago, August 2012.