Santosh Balajee Banisetty and Tom Williams


Proceedings of the Companion of the 16th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI LBRs)

Publication Year

Socially-aware navigation seeks to codify the rules of human-human and human-robot proxemics using formal planning algorithms. However, the rules that define these proxemic systems are highly sensitive to a variety of contextual factors. Recently, human proxemic norms have been heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the guidelines put forth by the CDC and WHO encouraging people to maintain six feet of social distance. In this paper, we present a study of bystander perceptions of a robot that not only follows this social distancing norm, but also leverages it to implicitly communicate disapproval of norm-violating behavior. Our results show that people can relate a robot's social navigation behavior to COVID safety protocols, and view robots that navigate in this way as more socially intelligent and safe.