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Observer-Aware Legibility for Social Navigation

Ada V. Taylor, Ellie Mamantov and Henny Admoni
Conference Paper, Proceedings of 31st IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication, September, 2022
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We designed an observer-aware method for creating navigation paths that simultaneously indicate a robot’s goal while attempting to remain in view for a particular observer. Prior art in legible motion does not account for the limited field of view of observers, which can lead to wasted communication efforts that are unobserved by the intended audience. Our observer-aware legibility algorithm directly models the locations and perspectives of observers, and places legible movements where they can be easily seen. To explore the effectiveness of this technique, we performed a 300-person online user study. Users viewed first-person videos of restaurant scenes with robot waiters moving along paths optimized for different observer perspectives, along with a baseline path that did not take into account any observer’s field of view. Participants were asked to report their estimate of how likely it was the robot was heading to their table versus the other goal table as it moved along each path. We found that for observers with incomplete views of the restaurant, observer-aware legibility is effective at increasing the period of time for which observers correctly infer the goal of the robot. Non-targeted observers have lower performance on paths created for other observers than themselves, which is the natural drawback of personalizing legible motion to a particular observer. We also find that an observer’s relationship to the environment (e.g. what is in their field of view) has more influence on their inferences than the observer’s relative position to the targeted observer, and discuss how this implies knowledge of the environment is required in order to effectively plan for multiple observers at once.


author = {Ada V. Taylor and Ellie Mamantov and Henny Admoni},
title = {Observer-Aware Legibility for Social Navigation},
booktitle = {Proceedings of 31st IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication},
year = {2022},
month = {September},
keywords = {legibility, navigation, social navigation, human-robot interaction},

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