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TeLeMan – A Teleoperative Legged Manipulator for Hazardous Missions

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Ever wanted to make a coffee from an extremely large distance away, or maybe you left the oven on at home, or perhaps, you would like to defuse an extremely dangerous explosive device located in a densely populated area but seems to be very far away?

No need to worry! A collaboration between the Real Robotics lab at the University of Leeds and the Robot Perception and Learning Lab at the University College London (UCL), resulted in the design of a system capable of complete wireless teleoperation and precision manipulation. Through the use of a quadruped robot with mounted robotic arm in conjunction with a wearable inertia-based motion capture system, the robot is able to be controlled remotely without the need of line of sight and is able to traverse many difficult environments. This system would then be controlled via the use of the motion capture suit allowing the robotic arm to be controlled as precisely as a real human arm. A robust robotic system combined with an effective control method, creates a teleoperation system capable of remote precision manipulation.

Creating this robot was an exciting and wonderful journey, and in the end, a fully functioning prototype was created with a demonstration shown of It being teleoperated to defuse an explosive device.

First demonstrations in the Real Robotics lab
First demonstrations in the Real Robotics lab
TeLeMan – Teleoperation and Telexistence of a Legged Manipulator via IMU-Body Sensing for EOD

A whole-body control system was used which allows for both the quadruped platform and the robotic arm to be controlled simultaneously using the motion capture suit. The use of the motion capture suit allows the teleoperator to simultaneously control the locomotion of the quadruped robot as well as the manipulation from the robotic arm.

The teleoperation strategies for the human operator are as follows

  • Hands must be closed to enable the control of the robot
  • Left arm controls the quadruped and the right arm controls the robotic arm
  • With the left hand closed, steps will send a velocity command to the quadruped in their respective directions. Rotation commands can be sent by turning the foot about the ankle.
  • With the right hand closed, any movements of the right hand will translate into position commands for the arm relative to the original position of the right hand when it was closed.

Through repeated testing, the controls were fine-tuned to maximise the operator’s efficiency in the task as well as for the overall safety of the robotic system.

The system had minimal input delay from the operator, could be reliably and precisely controlled in manipulation tasks and offered a robust solution to tasks that required both teleoperation and manipulation precision.

Everyone is looking forward to teleoperating the TeLeMan robot
Everyone is looking forward to teleoperating the TeLeMan robot

Most recently, the TeLeMan robot was then taken to the DASA Telexistance event. Throughout this day, a live demo of the robot being teleoperated to open a box and remove a wire from an explosive device was continuously shown to an ecstatic audience. Although there were some technical slip ups, the overall reception from the event was very positive and a bright future for the TeLeMan robot can be seen ahead.

A lovely photo of the team attending the DASA Telexistance event on 12th October 2021
A lovely photo of the team attending the DASA Telexistance event on 12th October 2021

The TeLeMan team consists of:

  • Christopher Peers (University of Leeds)
  • Chengxu Zhou (University of Leeds)
  • Robert Richardson (University of Leeds)
  • Dimitrios Kanoulas (UCL)

Time lapse of the DASA Telexistance event, around 200 visitors came to see the TeLeMan robot
Time lapse of the DASA Telexistance event, around 200 visitors came to see the TeLeMan robot