Underwater Telerobotics and Virtual Reality: A New Technology Partnership
NAVAL COMMAND CONTROL AND OCEAN SURVEILLANCE CENTER RDT AND E DIV SAN DIEGO CA
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Despite major advances in autonomous vehicle technologies, human-control led ROVs remotely-operated vehicles continue to fill an important role in underwater work. To perform effectively, however, the human operator requires meaningful cues for spatial orientation, good workspace visibility, and tight feedback about manipulator behavior. These needs can be hard to support in actual undersea operations. Telerobot designers for space missions have addressed these challenges by presenting a graphic, virtual reality model of the workspace to the operator, who then performs tasks on this representation of the actual work site. Real-time graphic modeling can 1 maintain a continuous, clear depiction of the workspace that is largely independent of communications bandwidth, 2 allow arbitrary shading and perspective of the workspace, 3 provide integrated navigation and orienting cues, and 4 support a rich, multi-sensory feedback environment. The use of virtual reality technologies for operator interface design is being investigated at NCCOSC for undersea ROV applications. A general-purpose virtual reality testbed is described which involves a dedicated virtual reality system for underwater applications, together with a manipulator system and supporting software. The objectives of the testbed are to examine fundamental human performance and engineering issues connected with operating on a virtual workspace for real telerobotic tasks, and to benchmark emerging telerobotic technologies in a standardized test environment.
- Computer Programming and Software