Towards a Socially Acceptable Collision Avoidance for a Mobile Robot Navigating Among Pedestrians Using a Pedestrian Model

Masahiro Shiomi, Francesco Zanlungo, Kotaro Hayashi, Takayuki Kanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Safe navigation is a fundamental capability for robots that move among pedestrians. The traditional approach in robotics to attain such a capability has treated pedestrians as moving obstacles and provides algorithms that assure collision-free motion in the presence of such moving obstacles. In contrast, recent studies have focused on providing the robot not only collision-free motion but also a socially acceptable behavior by planning the robot's path to maintain a "social distance" from pedestrians and respect their personal space. Such a social behavior is perceived as natural by the pedestrians and thus provides them a comfortable feeling, even if it may be considered a decorative element from a strictly safety oriented perspective. In this work we develop a system that realizes human-like collision avoidance in a mobile robot. In order to achieve this goal, we use a pedestrian model from human science literature, a version of the popular Social Force Model that was specifically designed to reproduce conditions similar to those found in shopping malls and other pedestrians facilities. Our findings show that the proposed system, which we tested in 2-h field trials in a real world environment, not only is perceived as comfortable by pedestrians but also yields safer navigation than traditional collision-free methods, since it better fits the behavior of the other pedestrians in the crowd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-455
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Social Robotics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Collision avoidance
  • Field experiments
  • Pedestrian modeling
  • Safe navigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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