Human-Machine Interfaces. It has been argued that human interaction is the glue that
will hold telerobot systems together in the sense of ensuring flexibility and robustness.
Human-machine interfaces (HMIs) cross-cut virtually every system function that has been
discussed, including the key remaining challenges. Unfortunately, modern intelligent systems
research too often tacitly treats HMI issues as secondary matters. HMIs are often whatever
workstation window structures programmers define in the course of building their systems.
Experiences in aerospace and nuclear applications have shown that the efficacy of the HMI
is always a first-order factor in terms of overall system functionality and efficiency. This is
certainly the case in robust telerobotics, and much more research investment must be devoted
to the human factors issues of human interaction at all levels.
In summary, we have discussed the straightforward concepts associated with the notion
of telerobotics. We have found that, in practice, robust telerobotic systems are virtually
nonexistent for a host of reasons, some of which are technical and many of which are
nontechnical. Remote systems applications in hazardous environments provide valuable
experience in the teleoperations dimension of telerobotics and richly define the requirements
facing robust telerobotics systems. New research into the human interaction functions of
these systems is needed in key areas associated with fault handling, fault recovery,
in situ
programming, and system control. Robust telerobotics should be a central focus of human-
centered robotics research.
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