Telepresence and Teleoperation

Telepresence robots provide a relatively low-cost mobile solution for secure and direct peer-to-peer video communication and movement around the home [1]. They differ from traditional forms of video teleconsultation as the remote operator can physically move themselves around a space providing a more immersive feeling of social presence.

There is also an untapped potential of telerobotics to offer remote assistance, however there are numerous technical, cost-effectiveness, social, legal, regulatory, ethical and organisational challenges to address before the potential of these technologies can be realised [2].

The aim of our research is to explore how telepresence robots and telerobotics could be used to enable people with different assistive needs to live independently and safely in the community for longer, through immersive social and physical support provided remotely by healthcare professionals community volunteers and family members who live away.

[1] Groom, L.L., Brody, A.A. and Squires, A.P., 2021. Defining Telepresence as Experienced in Telehealth Encounters: A Dimensional Analysis. Journal of Nursing Scholarship.

[2] Moyle, W., Jones, C., Dwan, T., Ownsworth, T. and Sung, B., 2019. Using telepresence for social connection: views of older people with dementia, families, and health professionals from a mixed methods pilot study. Aging & mental health, 23(12), pp.1643-1650.

Research topics

  • Advancing the state of the art in telepresence and telerobotic technology using integrated smart sensors for feedback and manipulation

  • Evaluation of telepresence robots use in a range of contexts to build an evidence base for their efficacy in addressing diverse independent living needs and combating social isolation

  • Developing collaborative models for teleoperation taking a humans-in-the-loop approach

  • Developing mixed reality interfaces to enhance teleoperator efficiency

Related Research Projects

  • TAS-ART - Augmented Robotic Telepresence - A Trustworthy and Autonomous System Integrator Project

This project explores the potential of Augmented Robotic Telepresence (ART) to improve on trustworthiness, inclusion/accessibility and independence afforded to remote users of Mobile Robotic Telepresence (MRP). Currently, while MRP have autonomous systems features such as collision avoidance, they do not typically allow for physical manipulation of the environment, have been found to engender limited trustworthiness, and have yet to achieve widespread adoption. We will co-design and study ART, which draws on Augmented Reality (AR), Internet of Things (IoT), and robotic actuation with stakeholders in societally significant domains (workplaces, museums, commerce, education and healthcare) following a socio-technical multidisciplinary approach to understand whether and how ART engenders trustworthiness for remote and local participants.

Project Lead: Ayse Kucukyilmaz

This project is designing and evaluating a framework for using telepresence and smart digital assistant technology, so that they augment the human contact offered by volunteer schemes to further build self-confidence and self-reliance.

Project Lead: Praminda Caleb-Solly

Related Past Research Projects with CHART team member involvement

As part of the Leaky Robots workstream on this project, Caleb-Solly and Esther Fox explored the gulf between ideal (as expressed in policy, disability standards, etc.) and practice, through a playful, museum-based visits facilitated through the use of telepresence robots. Their aim was to explore aspects such as how virtual presence and communication affect a person’s sensory experience of place, what is lost and what is gained, as well as how connections/relationships with others change when they are communicating with a telepresence version of you, reflecting on what it mean to be ‘present’ (Rae et al. 2014) and how a person’s agency might vary between virtual and real ‘presence’ affect agency (Takayama, 2015).

The title ‘leaky robots’ references the discourse so common in accessibility rhetoric – the idea that non-standard, impaired bodies are a form of ‘mess’. Their aim is to leverage the anarchic and disruptive potentials of play to articulate embodied experiences of this. This research is continuing in CHART through a range of other telepresence projects.

Rae, I., Mutlu, B., & Takayama, L. (2014). Bodies in Motion: Mobility, presence, and task awareness in telepresence. Proceedings of Human Factors in Computing Systems: CHI 2014, Toronto, Canada, pp. 2153-2162.

Takayama, L., 2015. Telepresence and apparent agency in human–robot interaction. The handbook of the psychology of communication technology, pp.160-175.

Project Lead: Praminda Caleb-Solly

Related Research Publications

  • Bolarinwa, J., Eimontaite, I., Mitchell, T., Dogramadzi, S. and Caleb-Solly, P., 2021. Assessing the role of gaze tracking in optimizing humans-in-the-loop telerobotic operation using multimodal feedback. Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 8.

  • Bolarinwa, J., Eimontaite, I., Dogramadzi, S., Mitchell, T. and Caleb-Solly, P., 2019, June. The use of different feedback modalities and verbal collaboration in tele-robotic assistance. In 2019 IEEE International Symposium on Robotic and Sensors Environments (ROSE) (pp. 1-8). IEEE.

  • Caleb-Solly, P., Fox, E., Evaluation of a Telepresence Robots to Access Art during the Covid Lockdown, 2022, Paper Under Review.