Investigation of Multiple Resource Theory Design Principles on Robot Teleoperation and Workload Management

Zhao Han, Adam Norton, Eric McCann, Lisa Baraniecki, Will Ober, Dave Shane, Anna Skinner, Holly A. Yanco

Robot interfaces often only use the visual channel. Inspired by Wickens' Multiple Resource Theory, we investigated if the addition of audio elements would reduce cognitive workload and improve performance. Specifically, we designed a search and threat-defusal task (primary) with a memory test task (secondary). Eleven participants - predominantly first responders - were recruited to control a robot to clear all threats in a combination of four conditions of primary and secondary tasks in visual and auditory channels. We did not find any statistically significant differences in performance or workload across subjects, making it questionable that Multiple Resource Theory could shorten longer-term task completion time and reduce workload. Our results suggest that considering individual differences for splitting interface modalities across multiple channels requires further investigation.

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