Cailyn Smith and Terran Mott and Tom Williams
Companion Proceedings of the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI LBRs)
The use of robotics in space exploration and space sustainability has become increasingly more prevalent in recent years. Aerospace contexts pose unique challenges to both robotic capabilities as well as human operator control as these robots often operate in safety-critical situations, unknown environments, and with significant communication latency to Earth. There exist both advantages and potential risks to increased levels of autonomy in these contexts. Therefore, this paper aims to elucidate perspectives on the future role of human operators and the trade-offs when deciding on the level of autonomy for a system. To investigate these perspectives, we conducted qualitative interviews with five professionals in the space robotics industry. Our findings show that—in addition to straightforward technical considerations—financial concerns, operators’ willingness to accept new technology, and even humans’ emotional experiences during missions will likely play a role in the future of shared control in space robotics.