Should a Robot Guide Like a Human? A Qualitative Four-Phase Study of a Shopping Mall Robot

  • Päivi HeikkiläEmail author
  • Hanna Lammi
  • Marketta Niemelä
  • Kathleen Belhassein
  • Guillaume Sarthou
  • Antti Tammela
  • Aurélie Clodic
  • Rachid Alami
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11876)


Providing guidance to customers in a shopping mall is a suitable task for a social service robot. To be useful for customers, the guidance needs to be intuitive and effective. We conducted a four-phase qualitative study to explore what kind of guidance customers need in a shopping mall, which characteristics make human guidance intuitive and effective there, and what aspects of the guidance should be applied to a social robot. We first interviewed staff working at the information booth of a shopping mall and videotaped demonstrated guidance situations. In a human-human guidance study, ten students conducted seven way-finding tasks each to ask guidance from a human guide. We replicated the study setup to study guidance situations with a social service robot with eight students and four tasks. The robot was controlled using Wizard of Oz technique. The characteristics that make human guidance intuitive and effective, such as estimation of the distance to the destination, appropriate use of landmarks and pointing gestures, appear to have the same impact when a humanoid robot gives the guidance. Based on the results, we identified nine design implications for a social guidance robot in a shopping mall.


Shopping mall robot Robot guidance Design implications Multi-phased study Social robots 



We thank Olivier Canévet for creating a Wizard of Oz user interface which we used in this study and Petri Tikka for giving technical support. We also thank Ideapark for their cooperation and the volunteer participants of the study. This work has been supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No. 688147 (MuMMER project).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Päivi Heikkilä
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hanna Lammi
    • 1
  • Marketta Niemelä
    • 1
  • Kathleen Belhassein
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guillaume Sarthou
    • 2
  • Antti Tammela
    • 1
  • Aurélie Clodic
    • 2
  • Rachid Alami
    • 2
  1. 1.VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland LtdTampereFinland
  2. 2.LAAS-CNRS, Univ. Toulouse, CNRSToulouseFrance
  3. 3.CLLE, Univ. Toulouse, CNRS, UT2JToulouseFrance

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