Levels of Automation for a Mobile Robot Teleoperated by a Caregiver

Samuel Olatunji, Andre Potenza, Andrey Kiselev, Tal Oron-Gilad, Amy Loutfi, Yael Edan

Caregivers in eldercare can benefit from telepresence robots that allow them to perform a variety of tasks remotely. In order for such robots to be operated effectively and efficiently by non-technical users, it is important to examine if and how the robotic system's level of automation (LOA) impacts their performance. The objective of this work was to develop suitable LOA modes for a mobile robotic telepresence (MRP) system for eldercare and assess their influence on users' performance, workload, awareness of the environment and usability at two different levels of task complexity. For this purpose, two LOA modes were implemented on the MRP platform: assisted teleoperation (low LOA mode) and autonomous navigation (high LOA mode). The system was evaluated in a user study with 20 participants, who, in the role of the caregiver, navigated the robot through a home-like environment to perform various control and perception tasks. Results revealed that performance improved at high LOA when the task complexity was low. However, when task complexity increased, lower LOA improved performance. This opposite trend was also observed in the results for workload and situation awareness. We discuss the results in terms of the LOAs' impact on users' attitude towards automation and implications on usability.

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