Sounds like a failure on the researchers part, if you tell students (who are conditioned to follow researchers instructions) to participate in a robotics research project where you "asked them to follow a brightly colored robot that had the words âoeEmergency Guide Robotâ on its side." And then subsequently "The robot led the study subjects to a conference room, where they were asked to complete a survey about robots and read an unrelated magazine article."
The students are going to assume you are going to be interested in their opinions on the robot.
The fact that you stated a fake fire which the students will know is fake by virtue of the fact that the researcher/supervisor or whoever was truly known to be the authority figure didn't freak out and tell everyone to evacuate isn't going to make much difference to the students actions, they are just going to assume it was part of the research to assess the robots performance in simulated fire conditions.
I guarantee these students expected another survey at the end where they rate the robots performance, reliability, accuracy, visibility and clarity of instructions etc etc.
True headline: Air Force sponsors failed Georgia tech research project
PhD candidate to be laughed off stage at IEEE conference in NZ on March 9th.