User-defined Swarm Robot Control

Lawrence H. Kim, Daniel S. Drew, Veronika Domova, Sean Follmer
Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2020
A swarm of robots can accomplish more than the sum of its parts, and swarm systems will soon see increased use in applications ranging from tangible interfaces to search and rescue teams. However, effective human control of robot swarms has been shown to be demonstrably more difficult than controlling a single robot, and swarm-specific interactions methodologies are relatively underexplored. As we envision even non-expert users will have more daily in-person encounters with different numbers of robots in the future, we present a user-defined set of control interactions for tabletop swarm robots derived from an elicitation study. We investigated the effects of number of robots and proximity on the user's interaction and found significant effects. For instance, participants varied between using 1-2 fingers, one hand, and both hands depending on the group size. We also provide general design guidelines such as preferred interaction modality, common strategies, and a high-agreement interaction set.