“Are we in this together?” : embedding social identity detection in drones improves emergency coordination

Kordoni, Anastasia; Gavidia-Calderon, Carlos; Levine, Mark; Bennaceur, Amel and Nuseibeh, Bashar (2023). “Are we in this together?” : embedding social identity detection in drones improves emergency coordination. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, article no. 1146056.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1146056


Autonomous systems, such as drones, are critical for emergency mitigation, management, and recovery. They provide situational awareness and deliver communication services which effectively guide emergency responders’ decision making. This combination of technology and people comprises a socio-technical system. Yet, focusing on the use of drone technology as a solely operational tool, underplays its potential to enhance coordination between the different agents involved in mass emergencies, both human and non-human. This paper proposes a new methodological approach that capitalizes on social identity principles to enable this coordination in an evacuation operation. In the proposed approach, an adaptive drone uses sensor data to infer the group membership of the survivors it encounters during the operation. A corpus of 200 interactions of survivors’ talk during real-life emergencies was computationally classified as being indicative of a shared identity or personal/no identity. This classification model, then, informed a game-theoretic model of human-robot interactions. Bayesian Nash Equilibrium analysis determined the predicted behavior for the human agent and the strategy that the drone needs to adopt to help with survivor evacuation. Using linguistic and synthetic data, we show that the identity-adaptive architecture outperformed two non-adaptive architectures in the number of successful evacuations. The identity-adaptive drone can infer which victims are likely to be helped by survivors and where help from emergency teams is needed. This facilitates effective coordination and adaptive performance. This study shows decision-making can be an emergent capacity that arises from the interactions of both human and non-human agents in a socio-technical system.

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