Hand It Over or Set It Down: A User Study of Object Delivery with an Assistive Mobile Manipulator

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Choi, Young Sang
Chen, Tiffany L.
Jain, Advait
Anderson, Cressel D.
Glass, Jonathan D.
Kemp, Charles C.
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Delivering an object to a user would be a generally useful capability for service robots. Within this paper, we look at this capability in the context of assistive object retrieval for motor-impaired users. We first describe a behavior-based system that enables our mobile robot EL-E to autonomously deliver an object to a motor-impaired user. We then present our evaluation of this system with 8 motor-impaired patients from the Emory ALS Center. As part of this study, we compared handing the object to the user (direct delivery) with placing the object on a nearby table (indirect delivery). We tested the robot delivering a cordless phone, a medicine bottle, and a TV remote, which were ranked as three of the top four most important objects for robotic delivery by ALS patients in a previous study. Overall, the robot successfully delivered these objects in 126 out of 144 trials (88%) with a success rate of 97% for indirect delivery and 78% for direct delivery. In an accompanying survey, participants showed high satisfaction with the robot with 4 people preferring direct delivery and 4 people preferring indirect delivery. Our results indicate that indirect delivery to a surface can be a robust and reliable delivery method with high user satisfaction, and that robust direct delivery will require methods that handle diverse postures and body types.
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