Pedestrian navigation and shortest path: Preference versus distance

Abstract. Contemporary digital maps provide an option for pedestrian navigation, but they do not account for subjective preferences in the calculation of the shortest path, which is usually provided in terms of absolute distance. For this purpose, we performed a controlled experiment with local pedestrians, who were asked to navigate from point A to point B in a fast manner. The pedestrians’ routes were recorded by means of a GPS device and then plotted on a map for comparison with suggested itinerary from a digital map. We found that the preferred shortest path is significantly different to the suggested one. Notably, the preffered paths were slightly longer than the suggested, but there was no effect in the trip duration because there were fewer obstacles, such as cars. Since many pedestrians employ GPS enabled devices, the findings of this research inform the development of mobile applications and the design of new subjective map layers for city dwellers.

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