Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


First Advisor

Brittany A. Duncan

Date of this Version


Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Computer Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Brittany A. Duncan. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2021

Copyright © 2021 Alisha Bevins


This body of work presents an iterative process of refinement to understand naive perception of communication using the motion of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This includes what people believe the UAV is trying to communicate, and how they expect to respond through physical action or emotional response. Previous work in this area sought to communicate without clear definitions of the states attempting to be conveyed. In an attempt to present more concrete states and better understand specific motion perception, this work goes through multiple iterations of state elicitation and label assignment. The lessons learned in this work will be applicable broadly to those interested in defining flight paths, and within the human-robot interaction community as a whole, as it provides a base for those seeking to communicate using non-anthropomorphic robots. We found that the Negative Attitudes towards Robots Scale (NARS) can be an indicator of how a person is likely to react to a UAV, the emotional content they are likely to perceive from a message being conveyed, and it is an indicator for the personality characteristics they are likely to project upon the UAV. We also see that people commonly associate motions from other non-verbal communication situations onto UAVs. Flight specific recommendations are to use a dynamic retreating motion from a person to encourage following, use a perpendicular motion to their field of view for blocking, simple descending motion for landing, and to use either no motion or large altitude changes to encourage watching. Overall, this research explores the communication from the UAV to the bystander through its motion, to see how people respond physically and emotionally.

Adviser: Brittany A. Duncan