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Kevin W. Rio, Christopher K. Rhea, William H. Warren; Follow the leader: Visual control of speed in pedestrian following. Journal of Vision 2014;14(2):4. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.2.4.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
When people walk together in groups or crowds they must coordinate their walking speed and direction with their neighbors. This paper investigates how a pedestrian visually controls speed when following a leader on a straight path (one-dimensional following). To model the behavioral dynamics of following, participants in Experiment 1 walked behind a confederate who randomly increased or decreased his walking speed. The data were used to test six models of speed control that used the leader's speed, distance, or combinations of both to regulate the follower's acceleration. To test the optical information used to control speed, participants in Experiment 2 walked behind a virtual moving pole, whose visual angle and binocular disparity were independently manipulated. The results indicate the followers match the speed of the leader, and do so using a visual control law that primarily nulls the leader's optical expansion (change in visual angle), with little influence of change in disparity. This finding has direct applications to understanding the coordination among neighbors in human crowds.
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