An Immersive Virtual Peer for Studying Social Influences in Children’s Bicycling













The goal of our work was to develop a programmatically controlled peer to bicycle with a human subject for the purpose of studying how social interactions influence road-crossing behavior. The peer is controlled through a combination of reactive controllers that determine the gross motion of the virtual bicycle, action-based controllers that animate the virtual bicyclist and generate verbal behaviors, and a keyboard interface that allows an experimenter to initiate the virtual bicyclist’s actions during the course of an experiment. The virtual bicyclist’s repertoire of behaviors includes road following, riding alongside the human rider, stopping at intersections, and crossing intersections through specified gaps in traffic. The virtual cyclist engages the human subject through gaze, gesture, and verbal interactions. In research papers below, we have described the structure of the behavior code and report the results of a study examining how 10- and 12-year-old children interact with a peer cyclist that makes either risky or safe choices in selecting gaps in traffic. Results of our study revealed that children who rode with a risky peer were more likely to cross intermediate-sized gaps than children who rode with a safe peer.

  Virtual Peer’s Behavior Models of Tandem Riding, Road Crossing and Social Interaction

(a) Model of Integrating Animation Actions and Reaction Motion States, (b) Predominant behaviors of the Virtual Peer while riding with the human rider at various locations of the virtual town






























Babu, S., Grechkin, T., Ziemer, C., Chihak, B., Cremer, J., Kearney, J., and Plumert, J. (2010). “An Immersive Virtual Peer for Studying Social Influences on Child Cyclists’ Road-Crossing Behavior”, accepted for publication in IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, based on the best papers of IEEE Virtual Reality Conference 2009.


Babu, S., Grechkin, T., Ziemer, C., Chihak, B., Cremer, J., Kearney, J., and Plumert, J. (2009). "A Virtual Peer for Investigating Social Influences on Children's Bicycling," in the Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Virtual Reality 2009, pp.91-98, Lafayette, LA.







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