Teleworkbench

Teleoperated Platform for Multi-Robot Experiments

Motivation

Robots are becoming more commonplace in our daily life. They are now capable of performing different tasks, from simple housekeeping jobs to autonomous driving on the road. Robot development is a highly complex and interdisciplinary process involving algorithm development and hardware design. Moreover, test and validation are required to ensure that the robot is capable of performing the assigned tasks.

System Description

The Teleworkbench is a platform for conducting, analyzing, and evaluating experiments using a large number of robots. It offers resource management, different robot configurations, and real-time data logging, such as robot positions and inter-robot communication. Additionally, it offers controllable environments for testing and validating different algorithms in different test scenarios. The environment can be automatically built and dynamically controlled by using a gripper. The gripper consists of three linear actuators and a swivel module. The Teleworkbench has a working area of 3.6 m x 3.6 m that can be partitioned into four independent fields. It is equipped with five video cameras for monitoring the fields. Each camera is connected to a Video Server that is responsible for processing images from the camera to provide the position of the robots as well as to store and stream the video to the Internet. A web-based user interface provides users, locally or remotely located, a means to control the Teleworkbench and to access the results of the experiments. Thus, the Teleworkbench can be used by geographically distributed researchers to cooperate and to perform multi-robot experiments.

The Teleworkbench can use different minirobot platforms. One primary robot platform is the HNI BeBot minirobot. This robot has a modular architecture that is configurable for different applications. In addition to the onboard microcontroller and FPGA module for signal processing, this minirobot is also equipped with different types of sensors and a wireless communication module.

Teleworkbench
System Diagram of the Teleworkbench

Analysis Tool:

For experiment analysis, a graphical analysis tool is used. This tool uses the MPEG-4 video standard, which enables overlaying the video data with additional textual or graphical objects, such as robot paths, communication messages, and robot’s internal state.