Talking with Robots: Experiences and Some Lessons Learned

Who and when?
Prof. Michael Jenkin, Director of the York Centre for Field Robotics from York University, Canada, is going to visit our University on Wednesday, September 10th. His talk will start at 11 am in room C 116.

Topic: Talking with Robots: Experiences and Some Lessons Learned
Very few autonomous systems are intended to be fully autonomous. Rather it is intended that they will follow the instructions that they are given and communicate information that they obtain back to their operator. Thus human-robot communication is a key aspect in the development and deployment of real robotic systems. For many applications, especially those that take place indoors in a laboratory, the existing infrastructure and communication channels (e.g., wired networks and workstation displays) provides a natural channel for human-robot communication. But as we move outside of this controlled environment, the problem becomes much more complex.
This talk reviews some of our recent research efforts in the development of effective human-robot communication systems for autonomous robots operating in complex unstructured domains. ROS (Robot Operating System) has evolved as a standard middleware for research robots, and accessing its internal state can be a difficult task from an external agent that is not ROS-enabled. One approach here is to expose limited portions of the internal state of ROS to external human-robot interface devices and then to exploit the capabilities of those external devices. We have explored this approach for both lightweight interface devices (e.g., Android tablets) for harsh external environments as well as for the development of virtual reality-based tele operational systems using the Unity game engine.

Michael Jenkin is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, and a member of the Centre for Vision Research at York University, Canada. Working in the fields of visually guided autonomous robots and virtual reality, he has published over 150 research papers including co-authoring Computational Principles of Mobile Robotics with Gregory Dudek and a series of co-edited books on human and machine vision with Laurence Harris. Michael Jenkin’s current research intrests include work on sensing strategies for AQUA, an amphibious autonomous robot being developed as a collaboration between Dalhousie University, McGill University and York University; the development of tools and techniques to support crime scene investigation; and the understanding of the perception of self-motion and orientation in unusual environments including microgravity.

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