ICRA 2021 — 2021 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)

Investigation of Multiple Resource Theory Design Principles on Robot Teleoperation and Workload Management

Zhao Han, Adam Norton, Eric McCann, Lisa Baraniecki, Will Ober, Dave Shane, Anna Skinner and Holly A. Yanco

multi view
Teleoperation, mental workload
  • May 22, 2021

    I just uploaded my video presentation and slides.

  • Feb 28, 2021

    Our paper on robot teleoperation and workload management is accepted to the 2021 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), the top conference in robotics!


Robot interfaces often only use the visual channel. Inspired by Wickens’ Multiple Resource Theory, we investigated if the addition of audio elements would reduce cognitive workload and improve performance.

Specifically, we designed a search and threat-defusal task (primary) with a memory test task (secondary). Eleven participants – predominantly first responders – were recruited to control a robot to clear all threats in a combination of four conditions of primary and secondary tasks in visual and auditory channels.

We did not find any statistically significant differences in performance or workload across subjects, making it questionable that Multiple Resource Theory could shorten longer-term task completion time and reduce workload.

Our results suggest that considering individual differences for splitting interface modalities across multiple channels requires further investigation.


Four test course maps
The four maps used for the search and threat-defusal task. Maps
A and B were of similar shape, as were Maps C and D. The initial position
of the robot is indicated with a yellow arrow and threat locations are the
four red boxes in each map.
Adept MobileRobots Pioneer Robot
The Adept MobileRobots Pioneer remote-controlled by
Game controller for teleoperation
The game controller used by participants to control the robot in
both the primary and secondary tasks.
Test course threat
A “threat” in the test course. The threat is removed
if the correct direction of the Landolt C is read (left in this example).


Video Presentation (slides).
Video for a sample run.

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