Bilateral teleoperation of groups of mobile robots with time-varying topology

Antonio Franchi, Cristian Secchi, Hyoung Il Son, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, Paolo Robuffo Giordano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, a novel decentralized control strategy for bilaterally teleoperating heterogeneous groups of mobile robots from different domains (aerial, ground, marine, and underwater) is proposed. By using a decentralized control architecture, the group of robots, which is treated as the slave side, is made able to navigate in a cluttered environment while avoiding obstacles, interrobot collisions, and following the human motion commands. Simultaneously, the human operator acting on the master side is provided with a suitable force feedback informative of the group response and of the interaction with the surrounding environment. Using passivity-based techniques, we allow the behavior of the group to be as flexible as possible with arbitrary split and join events (e.g., due to interrobot visibility/packet losses or specific task requirements) while guaranteeing the stability of the system. We provide a rigorous analysis of the system stability and steady-state characteristics and validate performance through human/hardware-in-the-loop simulations by considering a heterogeneous fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles as a case study. Finally, we also provide an experimental validation with four quadrotor UAVs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6199993
Pages (from-to)1019-1033
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Robotics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received October 10, 2011; revised February 23, 2012; accepted April 17, 2012. Date of publication May 14, 2012; date of current version September 28, 2012. This paper was recommended for publication by Associate Editor E. Guglielmelli and Editor W. K. Chung upon evaluation of the reviewers comments. This work was supported in part by the World Class University program funded by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology through the National Research Foundation of Korea under Grant R31-10008.


  • Decentralized control
  • distributed algorithms
  • distributed robot systems
  • haptics
  • mobile agents
  • multirobot systems
  • networked robots
  • passivity-based control
  • teleoperation of mobile robots
  • telerobotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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