Published: May 16, 2020

Authors: Arun Kumar, Mason Bell, Benjamin Mellinkoff, Alex Sandoval, Wendy Bailey Martin, Jack Burns

Abstract: Low-latency telerobotics can enable more intricate surface tasks on extraterrestrial planetary bodies than has ever been attempted. For humanity to create a sustainable lunar presence, well-developed collaboration between humans and robots is necessary to perform complex tasks. This paper presents a methodology to assess the human factors, situational awareness (SA) and cognitive load (CL), associated with teleoperated assembly tasks. Currently, telerobotic assembly on an extraterrestrial body has never been attempted, and a valid methodology to assess the associated human factors has not been developed. The Telerobotics Laboratory at the University of Colorado-Boulder created the Telerobotic Simulation System (TSS) which enables remote operation of a rover and a robotic arm. The TSS was used in a laboratory experiment designed as an analog to a lunar mission. The operator's task was to assemble a radio interferometer. Each participant completed this task under two conditions, remote teleoperation (limited SA) and local operation (optimal SA). The goal of the experiment was to establish a methodology to accurately measure the operator's SA and CL while performing teleoperated assembly tasks. A successful methodology would yield results showing greater SA and lower CL while operating locally. Performance metrics showed greater SA and lower CL in the local environment, supported by a 27% increase in the mean time to completion of the assembly task when operating remotely. Subjective measurements of SA and CL did not align with the performance metrics. Results from this experiment will guide future work attempting to accurately quantify the human factors associated with telerobotic assembly. Once an accurate methodology has been developed, we will be able to measure how new variables affect an operator's SA and CL to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of telerobotic assembly tasks. Read more via arXiv.