Perfect information about an environment allows a robot to plan its actions optimally, but often requires significant investments into sensors and possibly infrastructure. In applications relevant to human–robot interaction, the environment is by definition dynamic and events close to the robot may be more relevant than distal ones. This suggests a non-trivial relationship between sensory sophistication on one hand, and task performance on the other. In this paper, we investigate this relationship in a simulated crowd navigation task. We use three different environments with unique characteristics that a crowd navigating robot might encounter and explore how the robot’s sensor range correlates with performance in the navigation task. We find diminishing returns of increased range in our particular case, suggesting that task performance and sensory sophistication might follow non-trivial relationships and that increased sophistication on the sensor side does not necessarily equal a corresponding increase in performance. Although this result is a simple proof of concept, it illustrates the benefit of exploring the consequences of different hardware designs—rather than merely algorithmic choices—in simulation first. We also find surprisingly good performance in the navigation task, including a low number of collisions with simulated human agents, using a relatively simple A*/NavMesh-based navigation strategy, which suggests that navigation strategies for robots in crowds need not always be sophisticated.
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