Semi-Autonomous Mobility verses Semi-Mobile Autonomy

David Miller

Robotic wheelchairs are an excellent example of tight coupling between the desires of the operator and the automated navigation system of a robot. One of the primary challenges of such a system is to have the chair follow the navigational desires of the operator while maintaining safety. Often, in crowded situations, the automated system will halt movement, or redirect the chair against the operator’s desires. In these cases the operator usually has to execute a manual override temporarily disabling the automated safety features of the robot. This paper explores two alternatives. The first is an autonomy dial, where the operator can move along a spectrum of manual to autonomously guided movement. The second is a system for autonomously deciding when to switch to manual control i.e., having the autonomous system recognize when it is stuck and needs assistance.

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