Human Understanding of Robot Motion: The Role of Velocity and Orientation


A general problem in human–robot interaction is how to test the quality of single robot behavior, in order to develop robust and human-acceptable skills. The most typical approach are user tests with subjective measures (questionnaires). We propose a new experimental paradigm that combines subjective measures with an objective behavioral measure, namely viewing times of images viewed as self-paced slide show. We applied this paradigm to human-aware robot navigation. With three experiments, we studied the influence of two aspects of robot motion: velocity profiles and the robot’s orientation. A decreasing velocity profile influenced the predictability of the observed motion, and robot orientations diverting from the robot’s motion vector caused reduced perceived autonomy ratings. We conclude that the viewing time paradigm is a promising tool for studying human-aware robot behavior and that the design of human-aware robot navigation needs to consider both the velocity and the orientation of robots.

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Correspondence to Frank Papenmeier.

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We thank Eleni Sianni and Lisa Krösche for their help in conducting the experiments. We provide all data collected in the experiments as open data at the following location:

Appendix A: Stimuli for velocity profile “increasing”

Appendix A: Stimuli for velocity profile “increasing”


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Papenmeier, F., Uhrig, M. & Kirsch, A. Human Understanding of Robot Motion: The Role of Velocity and Orientation. Int J of Soc Robotics 11, 75–88 (2019).

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  • Human-aware robot navigation
  • Experimental paradigm
  • Acceptance measures
  • Event cognition