Assessment of Robot Guidance Modalities Conveying Instructions to Humans in Emergency Situations

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Robinette, Paul
Wagner, Alan R.
Howard, Ayanna M.
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Motivated by the desire to mitigate human casualties in emergency situations, this paper explores various guidance modalities provided by a robotic platform for instructing humans to safely evacuate during an emergency. We focus on physical modifications of the robot, which enables visual guidance instructions, since auditory guidance instructions pose potential problems in a noisy emergency environment. Robotic platforms can convey visual guidance instructions through motion, static signs, dynamic signs, and gestures using single or multiple arms. In this paper, we discuss the different guidance modalities instantiated by different physical platform constructs and assess the abilities of the platforms to convey information related to evacuation. Human-robot interaction studies with 192 participants show that participants were able to understand the information conveyed by the various robotic constructs in 75.8% of cases when using dynamic signs with multi-arm gestures, as opposed to 18.0% when using static signs for visual guidance. Of interest to note is that dynamic signs had equivalent performance to single-arm gestures overall but drastically different performances at the two distance levels tested. Based on these studies, we conclude that dynamic signs are important for information conveyance when the robot is in close proximity to the human but multi-arm gestures are necessary when information must be conveyed across a greater distance.
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