Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Computer Science and Engineering

Major Professor

Luther Palmer


interface, mapping, navigation, path-planning, robotics, semi-autonomous


Mobile robots are gaining increased autonomy due to advances in sensor and computing technology. In their current form however, robots still lack algorithms for rapid perception of objects in a cluttered environment and can benefit from the assistance of a human operator. Further, fully autonomous systems will continue to be computationally expensive and costly for quite some time. Humans can visually assess objects and determine whether a certain path is traversable, but need not be involved in the low-level steering around any detected obstacles as is necessary in remote-controlled systems. If only used for rapid perception tasks, the operator could potentially assist several mobile robots performing various tasks such as exploration, surveillance, industrial work and search and rescue operations. There is a need to develop better human-robot interaction paradigms that would allow the human operator to effectively control and manage one or more mobile robots.

This paper proposes a method of enhancing user effectiveness in controlling multiple mobile robots through real-time map manipulation. An interface is created that would allow a human operator to add virtual obstacles to the map that represents areas that the robot should avoid. A video camera is connected to the robot that would allow a human user to view the robot's environment. The combination of real-time map editing and live video streaming enables the robot to take advantage of human vision, which is still more effective at general object identification than current computer vision technology. Experimental results show that the robot is able to plan a faster path around an obstacle when the user marks the obstacle on the map, as opposed to allowing the robot to navigate on its own around an unmapped obstacle. Tests conducted on multiple users suggest that the accuracy in placing obstacles on the map decreases with increasing distance of the viewing apparatus from the obstacle. Despite this, the user can take advantage of landmarks found in the video and in the map in order to determine an obstacle's position on the map.