Abstract

This paper describes the application of multimedia and virtual reality technology to a multiple wheeled mobile robot system. The system is designed for teleoperation of a variety of highway maintenance and construction tasks, such as automated highway pavement crack sealing. Each robot is tethered to a support truck through linkages, and has its own embedded controller for motion control and posture sensing. A host computer is dedicated to communicate with the robots and to provide a multimedia interface to the operator. A video camera is mounted above the robots’ workspace and live video is taken to the host computer’s video capture card which supports video overlay. The live video of the robot workspace is then overlaid on the robots’ control window and provides an augmented reality for crack detection, path planning, and robot monitoring. By mapping live video on the computer generated interactive robot animation, the operator can simply control any robot through finger motion on a touch screen. The host computer can also provide a virtual environment providing the operator with a sense that he is sitting on the robot, allowing the robot to be easily controlled with a joystick. This paper shows the manner in which fast growing and inexpensive multimedia PC technology, virtual reality concepts, and the newest programming tools like Visual C++ 4.0 and OpenGL 1.1 for Windows 95/NT can be used to build an integrated interactive monitoring and control interface allowing ease in teleoperation of a multiple robot system thus significantly improving operational performance.

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