There is considerable interest in real-world formation-maintenance tasks, where robots move together while maintaining a geometric shape. This interest is motivated by promise of robustly and efficiently moving multiple robots along a path, guided by a human operator. This paper presents a comprehensive set of techniques that fulfill this promise: (i) a novel method for fusing open- and closed- loop controllers, for robust formation-maintenance; (ii) an ecological display, allowing a human operator to monitor and guide robots, while improving their performance and reducing the failure rate; and (iii) a set of methods for interacting with the formation in the case of a disconnect in the formation. We evaluate each of these contributions in extensive experiments, including 25 human operators. We show significant improvements in performance (in terms of movement time), robustness (both in number of failures, as well as failure rate), and consistency between operators.
Multi-robot formations; Robustness; Human operators