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This paper proposes a new concept of a haptic user interface for forklifts. The haptic interface is developed including valuable features and we named it "observe-by-wire" (OBW), which can give operators maximum visibility for safe operation. Particularly, the use of a OBW can help human to overcome the problems related to the blind spots caused by the mast configuration of forklifts. The OBW transmits distance information between forks and obstacles to operator in term of force feedback information. It is expected to be useful in emergency cases such as: moving large boxes, lack of illumination in warehouses. We have created OBW system, modeled the fork and its operations. Experiments were carried out with a group of seven subjects. The experimental results indicated that the OBW system can improve the visibility and operating performance of forklift's drivers. In particular, The OBW could give a haptic-based interaction channel between the drivers and vehicles regardless to the height of masts as well as intensity of illumination.
Date of Conference: 9-11 April 2008