would greatly facilitate the development of adequate supervisory control. Multiaxis force sensors are needed to measure the net force and torque exerted on end effectors. For example, miniature force sensors of this type could be mounted on finger segments to accurately control fingertip force. Improved actuator and transmission designs are required to provide high-performance joints and improved performance of telerobotics limbs.
RECOMMENDATION: The committee recommends that research be conducted on issues that arise when microtelerobots are used in teleoperation.
As the field of microelectromechanics evolves, and smaller and smaller telerobots can be constructed, the need for both basic and applied research in this area will steadily increase. For example, it will be necessary to address problems associated with the scaling of movements and forces. Because the mechanical behavior of objects in the micro domain are radically different than in the macro domain, such scaling will require the development of new types of telerobotic controllers.
RECOMMENDATION: The committee recommends that consideration be given to the development and application of distributed telerobotic systems.
Relatively little attention has been given to teleoperator systems in which the human operator is interfaced to a distributed set of telerobots. Because many functions require sensing or acting over a region that is large relative to the size of an individual telerobot (e.g., patrolling land or structures for security reasons), such systems, if appropriately designed and developed, would have many important applications. Issues that need to be addressed in this area include the careful selection of specific applications, the design of the communication system for transmitting information among the telerobots and between the set of telerobots and the human operator, and the design of human-machine interfaces that are well matched to human sensory and control capabilities in situations involving multiple telerobots.
RECOMMENDATION: The committee recommends the establishment of intercommunication standards for point-to-point connections in coarse-grained parallel computational architectures. However, for applications with demanding input/output operations, the committee does not recommend new real-time development systems or operating systems.
The most demanding VE system will require powerful real-time input/output capabilities to handle haptic interfaces, trackers, visual displays,