CS Colloquium - The Design of Virtual and Mixed Reality Interfaces for Human-Robot Interaction

Feb 5, 2024

03:30 PM - 04:30 PM

MacLean Hall, 110

2 West Washington Street, Iowa City, IA 52240

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Michael Walker - from https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=tM9tcT0AAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra


Michael Walker


Despite advances made in Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) research, robot usage has remained limited in modern society due to the difficulties of control, supervision, and collaboration. Robots are often found to be incomprehensible, and humans struggle to predict robot capabilities or intentions. Additionally, the high-level design of robotic interfaces has largely remained the same for decades, forcing users to view the rich, three-dimensional data returned by remote robots on outdated, two-dimensional displays. Advanced 3D virtual and mixed reality (VAM) display technologies are poised to address these challenges by making robots more expressive as well as easier to supervise and control. This research focuses on the design of VAM-HRI frameworks and VAM head-mounted display interfaces that support collaboration, supervision, and teleoperation of robots in both collocated and remote settings. These novel VAM-HRI interface designs are empirically evaluated using quantitative and qualitative methods in user study experiments that utilize real robots and emulate real-world tasks. Theoretical, methodological, and practical contributions are made to the field of HRI and demonstrate how human-robot teaming efficiency and cohesion can be enhanced by immersive VAM interfaces in structured and unstructured real-world scenarios.


Michael has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also holds a BS in Computer Science from Oregon State University and a BA in Business Administration from the University of Washington. He is interested in robotics and virtual/mixed reality and his dissertation explores how extended reality can improve human interactions with robots. His work examines the design of various virtual and mixed reality interfaces that enhance human-robot teaming in collocated and remote settings. Use cases for such interfaces include collaboration, supervision, and teleportation of robots in manufacturing, disaster response (e.g., wildland firefighting, search and rescue, etc.), and space exploration. Michael was born in Vancouver, B.C., and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for the majority of his life. He enjoys spending his free time with his wife, Anita, golden retriever, Baloo, and border collie puppy, Mowgli. His hobbies include skiing, scuba diving, hockey, racket sports, painting, video/board games, biking, and hiking.

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