Evaluation of Proxemic Scaling Functions for Social Robotics Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper introduces and empirically evaluates two scaling functions to alter a robot's physical movements based on proximity to a human. Previous research has focused on individual aspects of proxemics, like the appropriate distance to maintain from a human, but has not explored autonomous methods to adapt robot behavior as proximity changes. This paper proposes that robots in a social role should modify their behavior using a continuous function mapped to proximity. The method developed calculates a gain value from proximity readings, which is used to shape the execution of active behaviors on the robot. In order to identify the effects of different mappings from proximity to gain value, two different scaling functions were implemented on an affective search and rescue robot. The findings from a 72 participant study, in a high-fidelity mock disaster site, are examined with attention given to a new measure to determine proxemic awareness. The results indicated that for attributes of intelligence, likability, proxemic awareness, and submissiveness, a logarithmic-based scaling function is preferred over a linear-based scaling function, and over no scaling function. In areas of participant comfort and participant stress, the results indicated both logarithmic and linear scaling functions were preferred to no scaling. © 2013 IEEE.

author list (cited authors)

  • Henkel, Z., Bethel, C. L., Murphy, R. R., & Srinivasan, V.

citation count

  • 15

publication date

  • May 2014