Du Awarded to Improve Teleoperation Delays for NASA

Eric Jing Du, Ph.D., is an associate professor of civil and coastal engineering within the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment within the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida.

Eric Jing Du, Ph.D., an associate professor of civil and coastal engineering within the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment, received an award from NASA’s Human Research Program to investigate teleoperation robot delays.

NASA reports there are perceivable delays in most remote operation robots due to telecommunication bandwidth, distance and computing limitations. Dr. Du was awarded to mitigate the impacts of delays on cognitive and behavioral functions through a seamless virtual experience. In most teleoperations, a human operator is using a joystick to give a remote robot instructions and a monitor to perceive robot feedback before issuing the next instruction. The delays between instruction to robot action, and robot action to feedback can negatively impact the perception and performance of the human operator. Dr. Du’s team proposes to renovate this control method through a motion capture system and a haptic simulator paired with a virtual reality headset. The system would create deliberate stimuli at critical time points to reduce the feeling of delays.

“My team aims to test an approach called ‘sensory manipulation,’” Dr. Du said. “We hope to create a multisensory simulation environment, including mixed reality, haptic and force feedback as well as enhanced visual and auditory cues, to somehow ‘cheat’ your brain that the delay does not happen or is not as serious as it is.”

His research sets out to enhance astronauts’ performance in teleoperation tasks, reduce training requirements and better prepare for unexpected tasks. Improvements can impact the field of civil engineering.  Dr. Du says that industries that use robots—construction and industrial operations, teleoperation delays—would benefit from this technological adoption.

For more information, visit https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-selects-eight-proposals-to-support-astronauts-missions-to-moon-and-mars.