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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

167 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
Externally publishedYes


  • Decentralized control
  • Distributed algorithms
  • Distributed robot systems
  • Haptics
  • Mobile agents
  • Multirobot systems
  • Networked robots
  • Passivity-based control
  • Teleoperation of mobile robots
  • Telerobotics


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