Flocking in Humans – Again

Posted on June 29, 2010 by


These guys in Germany are performing fascinating experiments on the rules that pedestrians use when in crowds. I see that German pedestrians automatically move to the right when passing. I wonder would the result be different in a country where cars drive on the left?

As always order follows from strangers following common rules of behaviour.

Experimental study of pedestrian counterflow in a corridor

Journal: Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment Create an alert RSS this journal

Issue: Volume 2006, October 2006

Citation: Tobias Kretz J. Stat. Mech. (2009) P03012

doi: 10.1088/1742-5468/2009/03/P03012

In this work the results of a pedestrian counterflow experiment in a corridor of width 2 m are presented. 67 participants were divided into two groups with varying relative and absolute size and walked in opposite directions through a corridor. The video footage taken from the experiment was evaluated for passing times, walking speeds, fluxes and lane formation, including symmetry breaking. The results include comparatively large fluxes and speeds as well as a maximal asymmetry between left- and right-hand traffic. The sum of flow and counterflow in any case turns out to be larger than the flow in all situations without counterflow.
Pedestrian traffic: on the quickest path

Tobias Kretz
PTV Planung Transport Verkehr AG, Stumpfstraße 1, D-76131 Karlsruhe, Germany

Tobias Kretz , Anna Grünebohm , Maike Kaufman , Florian Mazur and Michael Schreckenberg
Physik von Transport und Verkehr, Universität Duisburg-Essen, 47048 Duisburg, Germany

When a large group of pedestrians moves around a corner, most pedestrians do not follow the shortest path, which is to stay as close as possible to the inner wall, but try to minimize the travel time. For this they accept to move on a longer path with some distance to the corner, to avoid large densities and by this succeed in maintaining a comparatively high speed. In many models of pedestrian dynamics the basic rule of motion is often either ‘move as far as possible toward the destination’ or—reformulated—’of all coordinates accessible in this time step move to the one with the smallest distance to the destination’. On top of this rule modifications are placed to make the motion more realistic. These modifications usually focus on local behavior and neglect long-ranged effects. Compared to real pedestrians this leads to agents in a simulation valuing the shortest path a lot better than the quickest. So, in a situation such as the movement of a large crowd around a corner, one needs an additional element in a model of pedestrian dynamics that makes the agents deviate from the rule of the shortest path. In this work it is shown how this can be achieved by using a flood fill dynamic potential field method, where during the filling process the value of a field cell is not increased by 1, but by a larger value, if it is occupied by an agent. This idea may be an obvious one: however, the tricky part—and therefore in a strict sense the contribution of this work—is (a) to minimize unrealistic artifacts, as naive flood fill metrics deviate considerably from the Euclidean metric and in this respect yield large errors, (b) do this with limited computational effort and (c) keep agents’ movement at very low densities unaltered.

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