Abstract-Interacting with humans is one of the main challenges for mobile robots in a human inhabited environment. To enable adaptive behavior, a robot needs to recognize touch gestures and/or the proximity to interacting individuals. Moreover, a robot interacting with two or more humans usually needs to distinguish between them. However, this remains both a configuration and cost intensive task. In this paper we utilize inexpensive Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices and propose an easy and configurable technique to enhance the robot’s capabilities to interact with surrounding people. In a noisy laboratory setting, a mobile spherical robot is utilized in three proof-of-concept experiments of the proposed system architecture. Firstly, we enhance the robot with proximity information about the individuals in the surrounding environment. Secondly, we exploit BLE to utilize it as a touch sensor. And lastly, we use BLE to distinguish between interacting individuals. Results show that observing the raw received signal strength (RSS) between BLE devices already enhances the robot’s interaction capabilities and that the provided infrastructure can be facilitated to enable adaptive behavior in the future. We show one and the same sensor system can be used to detect different types of information relevant in human-robot interaction (HRI) experiments.

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