Information Propagation Applied to Robot-Assisted Evacuation
Vela, Patricio A.
Howard, Ayanna M.
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Inspired by large fatality rates due to fires in crowded areas and the increasing presence of robots in dangerous emergency situations, we have implemented a model of information propagation among evacuees. Information about the locations of exits and the relative confidence of the individual in the location of the exit disseminated through a simulated crowd of people during an evacuation modeled after The Station Nightclub fire of 2003. True believers were added to this system as individuals who refused to accept exit information from others, instead preferring to head to their own exit. This system was then tested to find what percentage of true believers most likely existed in the actual fire. Using this true believer percentage, robots were added to the environment to guide evacuees to the nearest exit. The number of people who believed a robot’s instructions was varied to find what percentage of people need to trust these robots in order to exploit information propagation and thus increase survivability. As a lower bound, we have found that 30% of the evacuees should believe a robot’s instructions to significantly increase survival rates.