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Dr. Paul M. Torrens, Center for Urban Science + Progress, New York University

Crowd stampedes

Project overview | Demonstrations | Eye candy | Related groups
Project overview
In extraordinary situations, the individuals in a crowd may decide to pursue their maximum speed to fulfill their movement goals as. Examples of this occur with relative frequency in everyday life, when groups of people decide to rush to a destination at the same time (to pursue bargains at a shop, to look at some attraction) or flee from some place or space (to avoid danger, when engaging in mass egress, or sometimes for recreational goals such as avoiding bulls!).

Crowd stampedes may manifest as one outcome of these dynamics. From the perspective of the crowd as an aggregate, it may appear that the crowd mass is moving in unison. However, in reality, crowd participants are likely pursuing their own individual behavior, but have access to similar information in the immediate surroundings. Similar phenomena are obsevred in animal, bird, and insect crowds, as herding, flocking, and schooling, although the behavior of humans is likely much more complicated.

I have been developing a richly-detailed and unified platform for modeling and simulating human movement, using polyspatial agents driven by behavioral AI. One test of this approach is to see if collective behavior can emerge from individual action, interaction, reaction, and proaction among independently-acting agents, with independent access to geographic information.

Below are some examples. The movie and still images show the 3D immersive interface to the model, which is built at the scale of individual actors with realistic treatment of their skeletal structure, through to their vision, kinematics, and coarse spatial planning.

Stampeding crowd (you will need the Adobe Flash Player plug-in for your browser to view this movie)
Eye candy
(Print-quality versions of these graphics are available upon request)

simulation of stampeding crowd

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