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For a robot providing services to people in a public space such as a shopping mall, it is important to distinguish potential customers, such as window shoppers, from other people, such as busy commuters. In this paper, we present a series of abstraction techniques for people's trajectories and a service framework for using these techniques in a social robot, which enables a designer to make the robot proactively approach customers by only providing information about target local behavior. We placed a ubiquitous sensor network consisting of six laser range finders in a shopping arcade. The system tracks people's positions as well as their local behaviors, such as fast walking, idle walking, wandering, or stopping. We accumulated people's trajectories for a week, applying a clustering technique to the accumulated trajectories to extract information about the use of space and people's typical global behaviors. This information enables the robot to target its services to people who are walking idly or stopping. The robot anticipates both the areas in which people are likely to perform these behaviors as well as the probable local behaviors of individuals a few seconds in the future. In a field experiment, we demonstrate that this service framework enables the robot to serve people efficiently.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2009