Impacts of Robot Head Gaze on Robot-to-Human Handovers


In this paper, we investigate the use of a robot’s gaze to improve the timing and subjective experience of face-to-face robot-to-human handovers. Based on observations of human gaze behaviors during face-to-face human–human handovers, we implement various gaze behaviors on a PR2 humanoid robot. We conducted two consecutive robot-to-human handover studies. Results show that when the robot continually gazes at a projected handover position while handing over an object, the human receivers reach for the object significantly earlier than when the robot looks down, away from the handover location; further, when the robot continually gazes at the receiver’s face instead of the handover position, the receivers reach for the object even earlier. When the robot—instead of continually gazing at a location—transitions its gaze from the handover position to the receivers’ face, or vice versa, the receivers’ reach time did not improve; however, the receivers perceive these gaze transitions to better communicate handover timing than continual gazes. Finally, the receivers perceive the robot to be more likeable and anthropomorphic when it looks at their face than when it does not. Findings from our studies indicate that robot’s use of gaze can help improve both fluency and subjective experience of the robot-to-human handover interactions.

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Financial support for this research was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the UBC Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems. This project was partially supported by RGC GRF CUHK415512 awarded to Max Meng. This study was approved by the University of British Columbia Behavioral Research Ethics Board. We are grateful to all participants in our experiments. We also want to thank the following individuals who provided technical and other assistance throughout our work: Brian Gleeson, Daniel Troniak, Matthew Pan, Benjamin Blumer, Bikram Adhikari, Fernando Ramirez, Lars Bollmann, Katelyn Currie, Jake Rose, Junaed Sattar, Hongtao Chang and Lei Wang.

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Correspondence to Minhua Zheng.

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Zheng, M., Moon, A., Croft, E.A. et al. Impacts of Robot Head Gaze on Robot-to-Human Handovers. Int J of Soc Robotics 7, 783–798 (2015).

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  • Robot head gaze
  • Robot-to-human handover
  • Shared attention gaze
  • Face gaze