EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I028757/1
Title: REINS
Principal Investigator: Penders, Professor Jsj
Other Investigators:
Jones, Dr PE Holloway, Dr A F Roast, Dr C
Reed, Mr AH
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Guide Dogs South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Thales Ltd
Department: Faculty of Arts Computing Eng and Sci
Organisation: Sheffield Hallam University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2011 Ends: 01 March 2015 Value (£): 455,967
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions Robotics & Autonomy
Vision & Senses - ICT appl.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Feb 2011 EPSRC ICT Responsive Mode - Feb 2011 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The REINS project is to design and investigate haptic communicational interfaces (reins) between a human agent and a mobile robot guide. The reins will facilitate joint navigation and inspection of a space under conditions of low visibility (occurring frequently in fire fighting). The focus is on haptic and tactile human robot cooperation as it has been found that a limited visual field and obscured cameras adds to the distress of humans working under pressure. Humans naturally interact with animals using tactile feedback in scenarios such as working with guide dogs and horse riding; the REINS project aims to extend this practice to human robot interaction. Expertise from a number of different disciplines - design, engineering, robotics, and communication - will be brought to bear on the problem of designing a communicational interface which will be both sufficiently robust for the relevant physical environment and sufficiently flexible to allow for the on-the-spot exercise of human judgement and creativity.Inspired by the use of a harness for a guide dog and also the rein to ride or drive a horse, the REINS project will investigate and experiment with haptic interfaces for human-robot cooperation. The low/no visibility constraint ensures the focus is on the tactile and haptic aspects only. Currently, robots do not sufficiently enhance human confidence. In human-robot cooperation, the human (by nature) will try to 'read' the situation, and anticipate the movements of the robot companion. The robot is provided with an impedance filter and the rein enables the human to feel the robot's movements and behaviour. Experiences with remotely controlling a robot which is not directly visible show that 'operators spent significantly more time gathering information about the state of the robot and the state of the environment than they did navigating the robot'.The REINS project aims to map the communicational landscape in which humans (fire fighters, but also the visually impaired) might be working with robots, with the emphasis on tactile and haptic interaction. We adapt a semi-autonomous mobile robot for navigation in front of a human. The robot provides rich sensory data and is enabled to try the mechanical impedances of the objects it encounters. We also design and implement a soft rein (rope), a wireless rein and a stiff rein (inspired by the lead for guide dog) enabling the human to use the robot to actively probe objects. The project thus creates the means to explore the haptic Human-Robot Interaction landscape. We will work from an integrationist perspective in which the communicator is not a mere user of pre-existing signs but a sign-maker; the signs emerge in the ongoing coordination and integration of activities adapted to the particular circumstances. We review the communicational landscape occurring within a team of (human) fire fighters and in addition review literature on working guide dogs and horse riding. A research question is whether the information should be explicitly encoded as messages or can remain implicit.In the initial phase of the project the robot is adapted and the first prototypes of the reins are implemented; the emphasis in this phase is on providing rich data to the human. The second phase is dedicated to surveying the communicational landscape. The human-robot team will navigate a known environment with low visibility where unknown obstacles may occur. At least two different types of reins are applied: one requires that messages are explicitly coded, while the other propagates the information implicitly. Based on experiences in the first trials the reins might be adapted to improve their usability. Professional fire fighters will be the first group of subjects to try the reins, later on also volunteers experienced with guide dogs may join the experimentations.
Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.shu.ac.uk