Controlling speed and direction during interception: an affordance-based approach.

  • Bastin Julien
  • Fajen Brett R.
  • Montagne Gilles


The coordination of direction and speed of self-motion when intercepting a target moving parallel to the ground plane was examined. Subjects viewed a computer-generated environment comprised of a textured ground plane and a moving target. Turning rate was controlled using a steering wheel and speed was controlled using a foot pedal. It was hypothesized that these two degrees of freedom would be coordinated such that the speed required to intercept the target (i.e., the ideal speed) would be maintained below the subject's maximum possible speed. As predicted, subjects turned toward the target when ideal speed was less than maximum speed and ahead of the target when ideal speed was greater than maximum speed. When behavior was compared across groups with different maximum speed capabilities, it was found that the ratio of ideal to maximum speed was invariant across groups at critical points of both steering and speed adjustments. Finally, subjects rapidly recalibrated to a sudden increase or decrease in maximum speed. The results suggest that actors coordinate steering and speed during interception in a way that takes into account the limits on their action capabilities. Discussion focuses on the role of calibration and the implications of the present findings for existing models of visually guided interception.