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Cognitive Agent: An Evidence-based Cognitive Model of Uncertainty during Human Wayfinding


Wayfinding - the process of goal-directed planned movement in large, and complex environment is challenging and often executed under uncertainty. Wayfinding uncertainty is a mental state experienced, especially in an unknown environment, when deciding between two or more competing route choices at a decision point. Even though uncertainty is intrinsic and plays a crucial role during wayfinding, the existing computational model of human wayfinding provides no or minimal support for modeling uncertainty during wayfinding. Therefore, it is paramount to incorporate uncertainty into a wayfinding model to produce realistic human wayfinding. In this paper, we ground the wayfinding process on the concept of oriented search (as proposed by Allen (1999)), employing directional information from signage and spatial layout. We formulate and present two most common and prevalent uncertainty models during wayfinding: (1) Route-choice uncertainty: Originates when an occupant is approaching a decision point and has to select a route. (2) Affirm on-route uncertainty: Originates when an occupant is in-between decision points (e.g., a long corridor, large open space) and tries to ascertain if its current location is on the correct route toward the destination. A real-world experiment with 51 participants was conducted in a university building under two varying signage systems. 40 participants’ data with signage system A were employed for hypothesis testing and parameterizing the uncertainty models. 11 participants’ data with signage system B was used for validation. After thoroughly analyzing the experimental data, we observed that the number of signs, participants’ spatial knowledge, number of route choices at an intersection, and distance between signs were significant factors influencing wayfinding uncertainty. Moreover, we proposed an cognitive agent grounded on the empirical evidence observed to produce human-like wayfinding uncertainty during wayfinding. We observed a substantial similarity in the continuous uncertainty measure and overall wayfinding behavior

Research Team:

Qi Yang, R.K. Dubey, Saleh Kalantari


Yang, Q., Dubey, R. K., & Kalantari, S. (2022). An Evidence-based Cognitive Model of Human Wayfinding under Uncertainty. bioRxiv, 2022-07.

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