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Huber, Markus; Su, Yi-Huang; Krüger, Melanie; Faschian, Katrin; Glasauer, Stefan and Hermsdoerfer, Joachim (2014): Adjustments of Speed and Path when Avoiding Collisions with Another Pedestrian.
In: PLOS ONE 9(2), e89589 [PDF, 1MB]

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When walking in open space, collision avoidance with other pedestrians is a process that successfully takes place many times. To pass another pedestrian (an interferer) walking direction, walking speed or both can be adjusted. Currently, the literature is not yet conclusive of how humans adjust these two parameters in the presence of an interferer. This impedes the development of models predicting general obstacle avoidance strategies in humans' walking behavior. The aim of this study was to investigate the adjustments of path and speed when a pedestrian is crossing a non-reactive human interferer at different angles and speeds, and to compare the results to general model predictions. To do so, we designed an experiment where a pedestrian walked a 12 m distance to reach a goal position. The task was designed in such a way that collision with an interferer would always occur if the pedestrian would not apply a correction of movement path or speed. Results revealed a strong dependence of path and speed adjustments on crossing angle and walking speed, suggesting local planning of the collision avoidance strategy. Crossing at acute angles (i.e. 45 degrees and 90 degrees) seems to require more complex collision avoidance strategies involving both path and speed adjustments than crossing at obtuse angles, where only path adjustments were observed. Overall, the results were incompatible with predictions from existing models of locomotor collision avoidance. The observed initiations of both adjustments suggest a collision avoidance strategy that is temporally controlled. The present study provides a comprehensive picture of human collision avoidance strategies in walking, which can be used to evaluate and adjust existing pedestrian dynamics models, or serve as an empirical basis to develop new models.

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