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H-Haptics Programme overview

Our society is increasingly extending its influence to environments where humans can not be physically present: space, deep-sea or nuclear environments. Interaction with such environments then needs to be performed with a tele-operator, a robotic device that maps the interactions of a human operator with a ‘master device’ in one place, to the interaction of a robotic slave device in the remote environment. For many tasks it is very important to accurately feel the interaction forces with the environment (i.e. to have good ‘haptic’ feedback.), something that has proven to be a challenge despite decades of research.

But imagine a world in which the human operator can comfortably feel in the master device which control actions will lead to good task performance; leaving one in full control but more aware of the remote environment; where the devices we control become true extensions of our bodies over the full range of our senses.

H-Haptics is a large multi-disciplinary research programme in the Netherlands that aims to develop Human-centered Haptic devices, which assist humans in performing a wide variety tasks. We believe this can be done by means of haptic shared control, which makes task requirements and constraints tangible. The correct design of intuitive haptic shared control requires a deep understanding of human motion control and perception, of the required tasks in the environments, and of mechatronics, control theory and haptic tele-operation. H-Haptics combines the efforts of five universities and several companies which collaborate in seven individual research projects. The outcome of the project will be a unified theory of designing and evaluating haptic shared control, and one or more demonstrators for each project.