1995-07-01

Teleoperation of Mobile Equipment - A Behavioral Cybernetic Analysis 951480

Teleoperation of mobile equipment is attracting growing interest as a safe and viable technological means of allowing humans to perform work in hazardous environments without compromising safety and health.
Relative to telemanipulation, which has been more intensively studied, mobile equipment teleoperation poses distinct operational challenges, because the mobile device must be navigated and controlled by the remote operator during dynamic interaction with often unpredictable terrain and sensory environments. This report evaluates this issue from the perspective of behavioral cybernetics, with a focus on the closed-loop control properties of behavioral performance and how and why such control may be compromised during teleoperation of mobile equipment.
The conceptual paradigm adopted in the paper is to treat a mobile device during onboard operation as an exoskeleton, a structural and functional extension of the operator's own body. This approach has its origins in research on anthropomorphic machines, which first identified a series of critical human factors and engineering control principles required for effective teleoperation of mobile devices. The paper builds upon this concept with a review of the behavioral cybernetics of mobile equipment guidance from both human factors and control theory perspectives.
The paper goes on to compare and contrast demands on behavioral control during onboard vehicular performance with those encountered during teleoperation of a mobile device. The analysis suggests that performance problems in the latter case are attributable to behavioral effects of perturbed sensory feedback inherent to teleoperation, coupled with the need for projective control of behavior for effective vehicular guidance. The last section provides support for this conclusion with a summary of findings from our research on loss of fidelity of behavioral control under both delay and spatial displacement in visual feedback. Finally, the report targets a series of research issues that must be addressed in order to both understand and abate performance problems with teleoperated mobile equipment.

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