Systems, Man & Cybernetics - July 2015 - 64

SMCM: W hat a re your cur rent
research projects?
Tunstel: At present, I am engaged
in a research and technology development project aiming to increase
onboard intelligence and autonomy
for robotic systems, enabling their
robust operation in unstructured
environments with human partners.
The project seeks to enable systems
of robots as advanced and sophisticated tools with the capacity to perform tasks individually and in teams
and as coworkers to humans (Fig64

ureĀ  3). Systems that stand to benefit
from the research comprise humans
performing missions in real-world
settings, ground and small aerial
robots that are capable of autonomous mobility and manipulation in
their environment as well as collaborative interaction with humans, and
communication networks that are
organic to the human-robot system.
The project analyzes representative tasks that would permit the
execution of complex missions
in application domains, such as
disaster response and recover y,
secu r it y operat ion s, i ndu st r ia l
wa rehousing, constr uction, a nd
exploration. It focuses on physical
capabilities, sensory information,
knowledge, and modes of interaction that humans and different types
of robots would need to perform
complex missions and endeavors to
realize and demonstrate them in the
system-level trials. In this regard,
the scope of the project ranges
from sensor- and knowledge-based
control, navigation, and intelligent
behavior on individual robotic systems to exploratory development of
techniques for more intuitive or natural human interaction with robotic
elements of the system (e.g., interaction alternatives to keyboards and
screens, such as gestures, natural
language, and, potentially, brain-
computer interfaces).
I am also performing research
on the spectrum of robotic system control from teleoperation to
autonomy in the context of aerospace and security applications of
the robotic technology. Missions
for which there is distance and /
or time separation between the
human operator(s) and the robotic
system(s) situated at more or less
remote locations are a focus of this
project. Examples include space
and planetary missions as well as
missions in environments that are
otherwise considered dangerous
for or inhospitable to humans. The
research explores the trade space
for degrees of autonomy and telepresence that may be appropriate

IEEE SyStEmS, man, & CybErnEtICS magazInE Ju ly 2015

Figure 3. an aPL bimanual
dexterous robotic platform with
marsupial autonomous aerial
vehicle and miniature ground robot.

for a given amount of communications latency or time delay between
humans and remote robots.
S M C M : A re t here a ny f ut u re
research projects that you would like
to discuss?
Tunstel: Much of my research
has as a theme the increase in robust
autonomy for robotic systems operating in real-world conditions (Figure 4).
There are many problems that remain
to be addressed toward that end and
that have the attention of colleagues
all over the world thanks to a vibrant
and growing international robotics

(a)

1

5

3

and Astronautics. He is an associate editor of IEEE Transactions on
Systems, Man, and Cybernetics:
Systems, a technical editor of IEEE/
ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, a previous associate editor of
IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics,
and an editorial board member for
several other international engineering journals. He has actively served
as the chair or a member of the program committees for a number of
international conferences and symposia, including service as general
chair of the 2011 IEEE International
Conference on Systems, Man, and
Cybernetics (SMC). He frequently
interacts with academia through
research collaborations, as a graduate student coadvisor, and as a member of several master's thesis and
doctoral dissertation committees.
Recent recognitions of his accomplishments include the SMCS Outstanding Contribution Award in 2013,
the NSBE 21st Century Trailblazer in
Aerospace Award in 2012, and team
awards, including the U.S. Department of Defense Systems Engineering Top 5 Program Award in 2011 and
Toshio Fukuda Best Paper Award
in Mechatronics in 2010. Dr. Tunstel
and his work have been featured on
national radio and television programs, including The Tavis Smiley
Show, CNN Headline News, and BET
Nightly News.
Dr. Tunstel recently spoke with
IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics
Magazine (SMCM) about his work
and involvement with the SMCS.

2

4

n

(b)
Figure 4. (a) a JPL prototype

rover for mars surface excavation
and (b) a telecommunications
concept for a team of autonomous
excavation rovers on mars.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Systems, Man & Cybernetics - July 2015

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Systems, Man & Cybernetics - July 2015 - Cover3
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - July 2015 - Cover4
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