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This paper presents an augmented reality framework, implemented on the master console of a modified da Vinci® surgical robot, that enables the operator to design and implement assistive virtual fixtures during teleoperation. Our specific goal is to facilitate teleoperation with large time delays, such as the delay of several seconds that occurs with ground-based control of robotic systems in earth orbit. The virtual fixtures give immediate visual feedback and motion guidance to the operator, while the remote slave performs motions consistent with those constraints. This approach is suitable for tasks in unstructured environments, such as servicing of existing on-orbit spacecraft that were not designed for servicing. We conducted a pilot study by teleoperating a remote slave robot for a thermal barrier blanket cutting task using virtual fixtures with and without time delay. The results show that virtual fixtures reduce the time required to complete the task while also eliminating significant manipulation errors, such as tearing the blanket. The improvement in performance is especially dramatic when a simulated time delay (4 seconds) is introduced.
Date of Conference: 7-12 Oct. 2012