A semi-autonomous mobile robot/teleoperator with applications as an aid for severely handicapped people
Regalbuto, Michael Anthony
Cheatham, John B., Jr.
Doctor of Philosophy
A framework for a practical, easy-to-use system which can allow severely handicapped people to control and interact with their home and work environments is presented. Software written for a personal computer allows the user to command a robot to move about a structured indoor environment as well as control household appliances. Underlying these functions is a user-generated computer model of the environment which maintains spatial and relational information about household items. The model represents a data base which is accessed by a variety of procedures in commanding the robot to perform specific tasks, such as localization and navigation. Developed incrementally, a model can take on as much detail as necessary to command the robot to perform a given task. Beyond its use as a domestic aid, the system can serve as an inexpensive testbed for research in intelligent mobile robotics and can ultimately be targeted for use by the general population. The system is composed of relatively inexpensive equipment designed for in-home use. Software is written in object-oriented Allegro Common LISP and runs on a Macintosh SE having 4Mb of RAM. A HERO 2000 robot was assembled from a kit and modified to extend its workspace to cover desks and tabletops. Control of lamps and household appliances is via an X-10 Powerhouse computer interface module, which is connected to the SE. An Esteem 9600 baud wireless modem augments the 600 baud radio frequency communications link provided with the robot, allowing untethered operation. A custom Machine Control Interface has been developed for interfacing severely physically handicapped users to the system.
Mechanical engineering; Biomedical engineering; Electronics; Electrical engineering