GVSC Anomaly Interface

A tablet + watch + haptic interface to communicate error states from robots to their human operators.

Problem

How might we facilitate communication between an autonomous robot and its human operators when something goes wrong?

Robots have increasing potential to aid humans in tasks that are dangerous or take long hours. One such application was raised by the US Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC). In collaboration with the Software Engineering Institute at CMU, my team and I were asked to create a solution for alerting human operators of robot anomalies. The design solution had to be effective against alert fatigue, stressful conditions, and unpredictable environments.

Solution

A multimodal interface that provides quick and glanceable feedback via watch/armband, and in depth feedback via tablet.

We focused on ground vehicle robotics gathering environmental and terrain data to assess if a route was safe for other vehicles to travel across. We created a multimodal interface combining a tablet screen, watch screen, and haptic armband that squeezes the operator's arm to send anomaly alerts. The tablet provided an in depth checklist of how to proceed after the anomaly has happened. The watch and armband served as quick notifiers of an error.

My role: I was active in research and lead the digital interface design team to create a prototype of a tablet and smartwatch interface.

Supervised by Nik Martelaro, Lining Yao, Carol Smith
September 2020 – May 2021