A demonstration and comparative analysis of haptic performance using a Gough-Stewart platform as a wearable haptic feedback device

Gallegos, Lucas Eddie, III
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In many hazardous work environments, contact tasks ranging from manufacturing to disassembly to emergency response are performed by industrial manipulators. Due to the hazardous and complex nature of these environments, teleoperation is often employed. When such is the case, the operator is left to interpret a large amount of data during task completion due to the complexity of modern robotic systems and the possible complexity of the tasks. This information is usually processed visually but can lead to sensory overload. To mitigate this, the information processing can also be distributed through other modes of sensory such as auditory or haptic. The University of Texas at Austin's TeMoto hands-free interface reduces the burden on the operator of commanding remote systems by enabling the use of gestural and verbal commands to complete a range of tasks, but the removal of a mechanical interactive device from the operator interface complicates the inclusion of haptic feedback. In this work, a standalone Gough-Stewart platform previously configured as a wearable haptic feedback device for the Nuclear and Applied Robotics Group at the University of Texas at Austin provides real-time haptic feedback to the unconstrained hand(s) of the operator. In doing so, this haptic interface can be employed with the intent of enhancing situational awareness and minimizing operator stress by imparting forces and torques to the user based on those imparted on the end-effector of the industrial manipulator. While multiple technical issues and human factor issues must be addressed, this effort focuses on integrating the system and evaluating its performance for various industrial manipulator designs and sensor modalities. After testing various digital signal processing techniques, functionality was demonstrated among one series-elastic and two rigid industrial manipulators, each with different force/torque data acquisition characteristics and a comparative analysis in haptic performance was performed. Furthermore, it was demonstrated with the TeMoto hands-free teleoperation system. Overall, the demonstrations and experiments performed in this work prove the system to be a viable, hardware agnostic means of haptic feedback and a strong basis for future efforts