How Users, Facility Managers, and Bystanders Perceive and Accept a Navigation Robot for Visually Impaired People in Public Buildings
Autonomous navigation robots have a considerable potential to offer a new form of mobility aid to people with visual impairments. However, to deploy such robots in public buildings, it is imperative to receive acceptance from not only robot users but also people that use the buildings and managers of those facilities. Therefore, we conducted three studies to investigate the acceptance and concerns of our prototype robot, which looks like a regular suitcase. First, an online survey revealed that people could accept the robot navigating blind users. Second, in the interviews with facility managers, they were cautious about the robot's camera and the privacy of their customers. Finally, focus group sessions with legally blind participants who experienced the robot navigation revealed that the robot may cause trouble when it collides with those who may not be aware of the user's blindness. Still, many participants liked the design of the robot which assimilated into the surroundings.