Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Building presence in heterogenous systems

This is a theoretical result. The result will affect to research societies but not as is produce business. The use potential however is high.

The problem in PeLoTe is how to control multiple entities that are different. The PeLoTe system consists of two different layers: Operational and supervisory. The operator is a human supervising remote entities from a distance. The entities are working in cooperation in the real environment. This sets a new kind of challenge to presence research: PeLoTe is not teleoperation project, neither it is virtual reality project and it is not only studying what is presence or how the human presence is formed. While traditional approaches consist of one robot that is teleoperated, the PeLoTe system is more complex, because it can incorporate many entities both robots and humans. The operator controls several entities, so he/she has to have overview over actual states of all of them and then gives his/her attention to the entity, which needs it most urgently. It means that it is not appropriate for the operator to be fully immersed to someone’s role. Moreover, controlling multiple entities makes impossible to use an egocentric frame of reference that increases operator’s subjective telepresence. Instead of this a graphical user interface based on exocentric frame of reference has been proposed that provides better control of positions and states in a multi-entity system.

Teleoperated entities are fully or semi-autonomous. This simplifies operator’s work, because he/she doesn’t have to solve simple tasks like obstacle avoidance, object following, etc. Instead of this, the operator can concentrate on coordination of the entities and solving of unexpected situation. From this point of view, the operator can be called more intuitively a coordinator. On the other hand, autonomous entities can change their state frequently, send huge amount of information to the operator, and cause many various events (both expected and unexpected). All these data should be processed, filtered and the operator should be informed about relevant ones only. Moreover, events caused by autonomous entities disturb operator’s attention to currently performed tasks and decrease his/her feeling of presence consequently.

Human is also teleoperated that differs from operating robots. A robot can be controlled by a set of predefined commands (go to [x,y]), while human understand more a spoken language and therefore other terminology is used.

Common Presence:
The PeLoTe offers a solution to above presented problem is called common presence. The common presence is a model for controlling multiple hybrid telematic entities. It is based on common understanding of mission and environment. The term common presence means that all entities have some common space, which they can understand in similar way and exchange information through it. The common presence can be understood as a virtual working environment for different types of entities. The objects in the virtual environment are understandable to all entities. This kind of virtual space does not satisfy all the components of virtual environment for human, but there are some important key features that are satisfied. Especially the key phrase Being there is satisfied. All entities have location, which puts them inside this virtual space. All entities have capability to modify the environment, through mapping, inserting new objects etc. Through the model the entities see each other identical. This feature makes the system very general and applicable to various applications that combine multiple dynamic entities that operate in the shared space.

By the time of ending the project, the theoretical framework is still on going work. The dissemination of the result will be mainly done by presenting the theory in scientific conferences (some ideas already presented in FSR03, TA2004).

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