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Most traditional teleoperation systems adopt a bilateral master-slave structure based on haptic interface devices to render torque/force feedback and generate commands to remote robots. Haptic interface devices with force-reflection are usually bulky, expensive and purpose-specific, which bring up incompatibility and unavailability problems. Furthermore, haptic interface devices introduce contact instability in the Internet based teleoperation with unbounded and random time delays. In the paper, instead of using traditional haptic interface devices, the concept "SoftHaptics" is introduced. The essence of SoftHaptic interfaces is to use visual cues and/or tonal cues to interpret sensed data feedback from remote robotic systems with which the operator can construct the same mental image of what happens there as using haptic interface devices. By using SoftHaptic interfaces, the unavailability and incompatibility of haptic interface devices can be avoided. Also, because there are no direct force interactions (no energy coupling) between the operator and the remote robot, there is no operator-induced instability.
Date of Conference: 2001