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Mobile Computing: The Role of Autonomous Features in Robot-Mediated Virtual Learning.


Telerobots may function as robotic avatars in the physical world for people who are restricted to their homes due to high risk of infection or illness. Telerobots are mobile robot units that can be moved and controlled by a remote person (e.g., someone at home) in a local environment (e.g., office, classroom). These robots provide real-time audio and video exchange, with the person’s face typically shown on the robot’s “head” via face screen. The remote user is in con- trol of the movement and behavior of the robot in the local environment. This control provides the remote user a degree of embodiment in the robot and the opportunity to be present and engage in the local environment. Currently availa- ble telepresence robots differ from each other in significant ways with different mobility, vision, and audio features. Many telerobots also have autonomous fea- tures that reduce cognitive load to facilitate an immersive experience for the user. In this chapter, we will review our studies on the use of telerobots for virtual learning and explore autonomous and semi-autonomous features that facilitate an immersive experiences for the remote user and the interactants (e.g., peers, col- leagues interacting with the telerobot). We will evaluate issues of 1) function in existing systems and what is needed in future systems, 2) trust in autonomous features, and 3) need for interdisciplinary approaches to meet human needs. We will also explore social and ethical issues related to increased autonomous fea- tures in child-operated robots.

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