The Effects of Natural Sounds and Proxemic Distances on the Perception of a Noisy Domestic Flying Robot
Journal article, 2023

When flying robots are used in close-range interaction with humans, the noise they generate, also called consequential sound, is a critical parameter for user acceptance. We conjecture that there is a benefit in adding natural sounds to noisy domestic drones. To test our hypothesis experimentally, we carried out a mixed-methods research study (N=56) on reported user perception of a sonified domestic flying robot with three sound conditions at three distances. The natural sounds studied were respectively added to the robot’s inherent noises during flying; namely a birdsong and a rain sound, plus a control condition of no added sound. The distances studied were set according to proxemics; namely near, middle, and far. Our results show that adding birdsong or rain sound affects the participants’ perceptions, and the proxemic distances play a nonnegligible role. For instance, we found that participants liked the bird condition the most when the drone was at far, while they disliked the same sound the most when at near. We also found that participants’ perceptions strongly depended on their associations and interpretations deriving from previous experience. We derived six concrete design recommendations.

close-range human-drone interaction

natural sounds

consequential sound

domestic flying robots


Ziming Wang

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Interaction Design and Software Engineering

University of Luxembourg

Ziyi Hu

Student at Chalmers

Björn Rohles

University of Luxembourg

Sara Ljungblad

University of Gothenburg

Vincent Koenig

University of Luxembourg

Morten Fjeld

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Interaction Design and Software Engineering

University of Bergen

ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction

25739522 (eISSN)

Vol. 12 4 1-32 50

The Rise of Social Drones: A Constructive Research Agenda

Marianne och Marcus Wallenberg Foundation (M&MWallenbergsStiftelse), 2020-01-01 -- 2023-12-31.

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)

Interaction Technologies

Human Computer Interaction


Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics



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