Characterizing and facilitating human interactions with swarms of mobile robots

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De la Croix, Jean-Pierre
Egerstedt, Magnus B.
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Since humans and robots often share workspaces and interact with each other to complete tasks cooperatively, as is the case, for example, in automated warehouses and assembly lines, much of the focus has been centered on supporting human interactions with one or a few robots. As the number of robots involved in a task grows large, scalable abstractions are needed to support interactions with larger numbers of robots. Consequently, there has been a growing effort to understand human-swarm interactions (HSIs) and devise abstractions that are amenable to having humans interact with swarms of robots easily and effectively. In this dissertation, we investigate what it means to impose a control structure on a swarm of robots for the purpose of supporting a specific HSI, when such a control structure is suitable for allowing a user to solve a particular task with a swarm of robots, how one can evaluate attention and effort required to interact with a swarm of robots through a particular control structure, how well attention and effort scale as the number of robots in the swarm increases, why some swarms of robots are easier to interact with than others under the same type of control structure, how to select an appropriate swarm size, and how to design new input controllers for interacting with swarm of mobile robots. Consequently, this dissertation provides a comprehensive framework for characterizing, understanding, and designing the control structures of new abstractions that will be amenable to humans interacting with swarms of networked mobile robots, as well as, a number of examples of such old and new abstractions investigated under this framework.
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