DS07 - Société de l'information et de la communication

Lobby-Bot - Novel encountered type haptic devices – lobby-bot

Submission summary

In a Virtual Reality simulation, haptic devices are supposed to allow a more tangible and physical interaction with the virtual environment. To date, efficient haptic devices do exist and can be purchased along with industrial applications, but they suffer from several drawbacks. Particularly, they ususally have to be permanently held by the user and do not allow for touching virtual object in a natural fashion. Yet, many applications require hand-free interaction. This is particularly the case with simulations that require tactile exploration of the physical properties of virtual objects, or simulations that require a high fidelity haptic feedback. Due to the lack of relevant solutions, it is still to date impossible to carry on such a natural haptic interaction in a virtual reality simulation.
Encountered-type haptic devices (ETHD) are an alternative category of haptic devices that may address that requirement. They rely on a mobile physical prop, usually actuated by a robot, that constantly follows the user hand, and encounter it only when needed, e.g. to simulate a contact between the user and the virtuel environment. Just as the lobby-boy, in the Grand Budapest Hotel movie, is supposed to anticipate any customer wishes, our Lobby-Bot robot is supposed to anticipate any motion of the user in the simulation.
However,quite a few limitations still have to be overcome prior to a real industrial usage involving ETHD may be considered. Lobby-Bot project will address these issues along with 2 axes: a first one dealing with robot control, and the second one dealing with interaction techniques adapted to ETHD.
User security is a primary topic when operating an ETHD. To deal with this constraint, we choose to use a cobot to move the prop, for which we will develop specific path planning algorithms taking into account the cobot low velocity, as well as collision between every robot segment and the whole user body. These algorithms will make use of user activity prediction models in order to both specify a target location for the prop and a user-safe trajectory to reach that location.
From a software point of view, we also will study novel 3D interaction techniques to compensate for intrinsic ETHD limitations. These interaction techniques will allow for 1) handling potential delays between the ETHD and the user, 2) increase the diversity of shapes and textures that can be simulated by using an appropriate pseudo-haptic feedback, 3) surface followthrough by using ad-hoc feedbacks.
The results will be integrated into an ETHD prototype. The prototype will be used to validate the benefits of ETHD when used in an industrial use-case (perceived quality in an automotive interior) . This use-case can not be simulated with current technologies.
By leading the prototype integration, CLARTE will be able to carry on the protoype pre-industralisation at the end of the project. Beyond perceived quality assessments, ETHD will open new perspectives for the field of virtual prototyping. Many use-case that can not currently be handled through simulation will become accessible (e.g. ergonomic assessment of a virtual prototype, product customization, usability...).

Project coordination

Alexandre BOUCHET (Centre Lavallois de Ressources Technologiques)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LS2N Laboratoire des Sciences du Numérique à Nantes
Inria Rennes - Bretagne Atlantique Centre de Recherche Inria Rennes - Bretagne Atlantique
Renault Renault SAS
CLARTE Centre Lavallois de Ressources Technologiques

Help of the ANR 571,557 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 48 Months

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