Avoiding Human-Robot Collisions using Haptic Communication


Fully autonomous navigation in populated envi- ronments is still a challenging problem for mobile robots. This paper explores the idea of using active human-robot communication to facilitate navigation tasks. We propose to convey the robot’s intent to human users via a wearable haptic interface. The interface can display distinct haptic cues by modulating vibration amplitudes and patterns. We applied the concept to a single human/single robot orthogonal encounter scenario, where one of the two parties has to yield the right of way to avoid collision. Under certain conditions, the robot’s intent (to yield to the human or not) is revealed to the human via the haptic interface prior to the interaction. We conducted an experiment with 10 users, in which the robot was operated using a Wizard-of-Oz approach. Results show that, when given priority, users become more risk-accepting and use different strategies to navigate the collision scenario than when the robot takes priority or there is no haptic communication channel. In addition, we propose a social-force based model to predict human movement during navigation. The effect of communication can be explained as a shift in the user’s safety buffer and expectation of the robot’s future velocity.

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation