Heuristic Evaluation of the User Interface for a Semi-Autonomous Agricultural Robot Sprayer

DOI 10.7160/aol.2020.120301
No 3/2020, September
pp. 3-12

Adamides, G. (2020) “Heuristic Evaluation of the User Interface for a Semi-Autonomous Agricultural Robot Sprayer", AGRIS on-line Papers in Economics and Informatics, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 3-12. ISSN 1804-1930. DOI 10.7160/aol.2020.120301.


This study presents the heuristic evaluation, as a usability inspection method for Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) systems. First, the methodology to engineer a semi-autonomous agricultural robot sprayer is presented, and then findings from heuristic usability evaluation studies that were carried out on a human-robot interface for a semi-autonomous agricultural vineyard robot sprayer. The following research-based heuristics for the design of robot teleoperation were used: Platform architecture and scalability, Error prevention and recovery, Visual design, Information presentation, Robot state awareness, Interaction effectiveness and efficiency, Robot environment/surroundings awareness, and Cognitive factors. In each evaluation study, usability problems were identified, and specific suggestions were documented for HRI usability improvement. In each design iteration, a smaller number of usability issues were identified.. Results of the final heuristic evaluation showed that the system is at a good level of usability and is expected to provide satisfactory services to its typical users.


Agricultural robot, human-robot interaction, heuristic evaluation, usability study.


  1. Adamides, G. (2016) "User Interfaces for Human-Robot Interaction: Application on a Semi-Autonomous Agricultural Robot Sprayer", PhD Doctoral Dissertation, Open University of Cyprus, Nicosia. ISBN 978-9963-695-49-2.
  2. Adamides, G., Christou, G., Katsanos, C., Xenos, M. and Hadzilacos, T. (2015) "Usability Guidelines for the Design of Robot Teleoperation: A Taxonomy", IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 256-262. ISSN 2168-2291. DOI 10.1109/thms.2014.2371048.
  3. Adamides, G., Katsanos, C., Christou, G., Xenos, M., Papadavid, G. and Hadzilacos, T. (2014) "User interface considerations for telerobotics: The case of an agricultural robot sprayer", In Second international conference on remote sensing and geoinformation of the environment (RSCy2014), Vol. 9229, pp. 92291W, International Society for Optics and Photonics. DOI 10.1117/12.2068318.
  4. Alan, D., Janet, F., Gregory, A. and Russell, B. (2004) "Human-computer interaction", England: Pearson Education Limited. ISBN 978-0-13-046109-4.
  5. Albert, W. and Tullis, T. (2008) "Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics (Interactive Technologies)", Morgan Kaufmann. E-ISBN 978-0-12-415781-1.
  6. Arad, B., Balendonck, J., Barth, R., Ben‐Shahar, O., Edan, Y., Hellström, T., Hemming, J., Kurtser, P., Ringdahl, O., Tielen, T. and van Tuijl, B. (2020) "Development of a sweet pepper harvesting robot", Journal of Field Robotics, Vol. 34, No. 6, pp. 1027-1039. E-ISSN 1556-4967. DOI 10.1002/rob.21937.
  7. Åstrand, B. and Baerveldt, A.-J. (2002) "An Agricultural Mobile Robot with Vision-Based Perception for Mechanical Weed Control", Autonomous Robots, Vol. 13, pp. 21-35. E-ISSN 1573-7527, ISSN 0929-5593. DOI 10.1023/a:1015674004201.
  8. Berenstein, R. and Edan, Y. (2012) "Evaluation of marking techniques for a human-robot selective vineyard sprayer", Paper presented at the International Conference of Agricultural Engineering, Valencia, Spain.
  9. Berenstein, R. and Edan, Y. (2017) "Human-robot collaborative site-specific sprayer", Journal of Field Robotics, Vol. 34, No. 8, pp. 1519-1530. E-ISSN 1556-4967. DOI 10.1002/rob.21730.
  10. Berenstein, R., Shahar, O. B., Shapiro, A. and Edan, Y. (2010) "Grape clusters and foliage detection algorithms for autonomous selective vineyard sprayer", Intelligent Service Robotics, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 233-243. E-ISSN 1861-2784, ISSN 1861-2776. DOI 10.1007/s11370-010-0078-z.
  11. Brown, D., Giles, D., Oliver, M. and Klassen, P. (2008) "Targeted spray technology to reduce pesticide in runoff from dormant orchards", Crop Protection, Vol. 27, pp. 545-552. ISSN 0261-2194. DOI 10.1016/j.cropro.2007.08.012.
  12. Dumas, J. S. and Redish, J. C. (1999) "A practical guide to usability testing", Intellect Books. ISBN 1-84150-020-8.
  13. Edan, Y., Han, S. and Kondo, N. (2009) "Automation in Agriculture", Springer Handbook of Automation. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 1095-1128. ISBN 10: 3540788301, ISBN 13: 9783540788300. DOI 10.1007/978-3-540-78831-7_63.
  14. Endalew, A. M., Debaer, C., Rutten, N., Vercammen, J., Delele, M. A., Ramon, H., Nicolaï, B. M. and Verboven, P. (2011) "Modelling the effect of tree foliage on sprayer airflow in orchards", Boundary-Layer Meteorology, Vol. 138, No. 1, pp. 139-162. E-ISSN 1573-1472, ISSN 0006-8314. DOI 10.1007/s10546-010-9544-6.
  15. FAO (2009) "How to Feed the World in 2050", Population and Development Review, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 837-839. E-ISSN ISSN:1728-4457. DOI 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2009.00312.x.
  16. FAO (2010) "Climate-smart Agriculture: Policies, Practices and Financing for Food Security, Adaptation and Mitigation", Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
  17. Fong, T., Thorpe, C. and Baur, C. (2001) "Collaboration, dialogue, human-robot interaction", In: Jarvis R. A., Zelinsky A. (eds) Robotics Research, Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics, Vol 6. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. DOI 10.1007/3-540-36460-9_17.
  18. Hertz, T. and Zahniser, S. (2013) "Is there a farm labor shortage?", American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 95, No. 2, pp. 476-481. E-ISSN 1467-8276, ISSN 0002-9092. DOI 10.1093/ajae/aas090.
  19. Huffman, W. E. and Evenson, R. E. (2001) "Structural and productivity change in US agriculture, 1950–1982", Agricultural economics, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 127-147. ISSN 0169-5150. DOI 10.1111/j.1574-0862.2001.tb00019.x.
  20. Kargar, B., Amir, H. and Shirzadifar, A. M. (2013) "Automatic weed detection system and smart herbicide sprayer robot for corn fields", Paper presented at the First RSI/ISM International Conference on Robotics and Mechatronics. DOI 10.1109/ICRoM.2013.6510152.
  21. McNulty, P. B. and Grace, P. M. (2009) "Agricultural Mechanization and Automation", In J. K. Schueller (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Vol. I: Eolss Publishers Company Limited. E-ISBN 978-1-84826-096-2, ISBN 978-1-84826-546-2. DOI 10.13140/2.1.4421.9683.
  22. Nielsen, J. (1994a) "How to conduct a heuristic evaluation", Nielsen Norman Group, 1, pp. 1-8.
  23. Nielsen, J. (1994b) "Usability engineering", Morgan Kaufmann. ISBN 978-0125184069.
  24. Nielsen, J. (1994c) "Usability inspection methods", In Conference companion on Human factors in computing systems, pp. 413-414. DOI 10.1145/259963.260531.
  25. Nielsen, J. (1995) "Severity ratings for usability problems",Papers and Essays. [Online]. Available: http://www.useit.com/papers/heuristic/severityrating.html [Accessed: 23 June, 2020].
  26. Nielsen, J. and Landauer, T. K. (1993) "A mathematical model of the finding of usability problems", Paper presented at the Proceedings of the INTERACT'93 and CHI'93 conference on Human factors in computing systems, pp. 206-213. ISBN 978-0-89791-575-5. DOI 10.1145/169059.169166.
  27. Nielsen, J. and Molich, R. (1990) "Heuristic evaluation of user interfaces", Paper presented at the Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems: Empowering people. ISBN 978-1-4503-0228-9. DOI 10.1145/97243.97281.
  28. Oberti, R., Marchi, M., Tirelli, P., Calcante, A., Iriti, M., Tona, E., Hočevar, M., Baur, J., Pfaff, J., Schütz, Ch. and Ulbrich, H. (2016) "Selective spraying of grapevines for disease control using a modular agricultural robot", Biosystems Engineering, Vol. 146, pp. 203-215. ISSN 1537-5110. DOI 10.1016/j.biosystemseng.2015.12.004.
  29. Poole, A. and Linden, B. (2005) "Eye Tracking in Human-Computer Interaction and Usability Research: Current Status and Future", In C. Ghaoui (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human computer interaction: IGI Global. E-ISBN13: 9781591407980, ISBN13: 9781591405627, ISBN10: 1591405629. DOI 10.4018/978-1-59140-562-7.ch034.
  30. Sistler, F. E. (1987) "Robotics and intelligent machines in agriculture", IEEE Journal of Robotics and Automation, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 3-6. ISSN 0882-4967. DOI 10.1109/JRA.1987.1087074.
  31. Yanco, H. A. and Drury, J. (2004) "Classifying human-robot interaction: an updated taxonomy", In 2004 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics (IEEE Cat. No. 04CH37583), Vol. 3, pp. 2841-2846. ISBN 0-7803-8566-7, ISSN 1062-922X. DOI 10.1109/ICSMC.2004.1400763.

Full paper

  Full paper (.pdf, 1.19 MB).