International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 373–388 | Cite as

A Study on Different User Interfaces for Teaching Virtual Borders to Mobile Robots

  • Dennis SpruteEmail author
  • Klaus Tönnies
  • Matthias König


Human-aware robot navigation is an essential aspect to increase the acceptance of mobile service robots in human-centered environments, e.g. home environments. Robots need to navigate in a human-acceptable way according to the users’ conventions, presence and needs. In order to address the users’ needs, we employ virtual borders, which are non-physical borders and respected by the robots while working, to effectively restrict the workspace of a mobile robot and change its navigational behavior. To this end, we consider different user interfaces, i.e. visual markers, a laser pointer, a graphical user interface and a RGB-D Google Tango tablet with augmented reality application, to allow non-expert users the flexible and interactive definition of virtual borders. These user interfaces were evaluated with respect to their correctness, flexibility, accuracy, teaching effort and user experience. Experimental results show that the RGB-D Google Tango tablet as user interface yields the best overall results compared to the other user interfaces. Apart from a low teaching effort and high flexibility and accuracy, it features the highest user ratings acquired from a comprehensive user study with 25 participants for intuitiveness, comfort, learnability and its feedback system.


Human-aware navigation Socially-aware navigation Human-centered environments Social human–robot interaction Virtual borders User interfaces 



We would like to thank all participants of the user study for their time and valuable feedback.


This study was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Grant Number 03FH006PX5).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bielefeld University of Applied SciencesMindenGermany
  2. 2.Faculty of Computer ScienceOtto-von-Guericke University MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany

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