Welcoming Robot Behaviors for Drawing Attention

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Drawing the attention of passersby is a basic task of a social robot to initiate an interaction in a public environment (e.g., shopping malls, museums or hospitals). Humans use several social cues, both verbal and nonverbal, to draw the attention of others. In this study, we investigate whether similar behaviors can also be effectively used by a social robot for drawing attention. To this end, we setup a humanoid robot (Pepper) to act as a welcoming robot at the entrance of a university building. The behaviors selected for Pepper include one or a combination of behavioral modalities (i.e., a waving gesture, utterance and movement). These behaviors are triggered automatically using the output of people detection software which tracks passersby and monitors their head keypoints (nose, eyes, and ears). The reactions of people toward Pepper are observed and recorded by means of an observation sheet. For several weeks, we deployed Pepper at the entrance with the aim of wearing off the novelty effect. In our final study, we collected data from several hundreds of passersby N=364 and conducted post-interviews with randomly selected ones N=28. Passersby noticed Pepper at the entrance and clearly recognized its role as a welcoming robot. In addition, Pepper was able to draw more attention when displaying a combination of behavioral modalities. However, passersby did not recall the robot utterance as they, for example, were unable to reproduce it or mistakenly claimed that the robot said something when it was only waving.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2019 14th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI)
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5386-8555-6
ISBN (Print)978-1-5386-8556-3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event14th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI 2019 - Daegu, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 11 Mar 201914 Mar 2019


Conference14th Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI 2019
CountryKorea, Republic of


  • Drawing Attention
  • Human Robot Interaction
  • Initial Engagement
  • Robot Behaviors
  • Social Robotics


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