Publication (IJSR 2021): Safety Concerns Emerging from Robots Navigating in Crowded Pedestrian Areas

This article has been published in International Journal of Social Robotics (ISJR 2021).


The slogan “robots will pervade our environment” has become a reality. Drones and ground robots are used for commercial purposes while semiautonomous driving systems are standard accessories to traditional cars. However, while our eyes have been riveted on dangers and accidents arising from drones falling and autonomous cars’ crashing, much less attention has been ported to dangers arising from the imminent arrival of robots that share the floor with pedestrians and will mix with human crowds. These robots range from semi or autonomous mobile platforms designed for providing several kinds of service, such as assistant, patrolling, tourguide, delivery, human transportation, etc.
We highlight and discuss potential sources of injury emerging from contacts of robots with pedestrians through a set of case studies. We look specifically at dangers deriving from robots moving in dense crowds. In such situations, contact will not only be unavoidable, but may be desirable to ensure that the robot moves with the flow. As an outlook toward the future, we also offer some thoughts on the psychological risks, beyond the physical hazards, arising from the robot’s appearance and behaviour. We also advocate for new policies to regulate mobile robots traffic and enforce proper end user’s training.


  • Title: Safety Concerns Emerging from Robots Navigating in Crowded Pedestrian Areas
  • Authors: Salvini, Pericle; Paez-Granados, Diego Felipe; Billard, Aude
  • Date of publication: 21/06/2021
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