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Marta Diaz, Dennys Paillacho, & Cecilio Angulo. (2015). Evaluating Group-Robot Interaction in Crowded Public Spaces: A Week-Long Exploratory Study in the Wild with a Humanoid Robot Guiding Visitors Through a Science Museum. International Journal of Humanoid Robotics, 12.
Abstract: This paper describes an exploratory study on group interaction with a robot-guide in an open large-scale busy environment. For an entire week a humanoid robot was deployed in the popular Cosmocaixa Science Museum in Barcelona and guided hundreds of people through the museum facilities. The main goal of this experience is to study in the wild the episodes of the robot guiding visitors to a requested destination focusing on the group behavior during displacement. The walking behavior follow-me and the face to face communication in a populated environment are analyzed in terms of guide- visitors interaction, grouping patterns and spatial formations. Results from observational data show that the space configurations spontaneously formed by the robot guide and visitors walking together did not always meet the robot communicative and navigational requirements for successful guidance. Therefore additional verbal and nonverbal prompts must be considered to regulate effectively the walking together and follow-me behaviors. Finally, we discuss lessons learned and recommendations for robot’s spatial behavior in dense crowded scenarios.
Keywords: Group-robot interaction; robotic-guide; social navigation; space management; spatial formations; group walking behavior; crowd behavior