Homepage

A huge challenge is to simulate tens of thousands of agents in real-time where they pro-actively and realistically avoid collisions with each other and with obstacles present in their environment, especially near narrow passages where cooperative behavior is required. This environment contains semantic information, such as roads or dangerous areas, is usually three-dimensional and can dynamically change.

We study how we can automatically create a data structure that represents the walkable surfaces in virtual environments, and how it can be updated dynamically and efficiently when it changes. We refer to this structure as a navigation mesh. This mesh enables efficient crowd simulation, which is our next topic of research. We study and develop a crowd simulation framework and its components, which ranges from global planning to local animation. We create models for realistic crowd behaviors, which includes studying how people and groups of people move and avoid collisions in such environments, based on agent profiles and semantics.

We continuously integrate our research into our UU Crowd simulation software which is used by many research institutes and companies, including our own startup, uCrowds. We run simulations in realistic environments and game levels to study the effectiveness of our methods. This way, we contribute to a more safe and fun world.

Video of the week

Coronavirus: using crowd simulation to encourage social distancing

The World Economic Forum has created a movie clip about our research and development on crowd simulation at Utrecht University and uCrowds BV. Source: WeForum.org.

Video of the previous week

Real-time, iteractive crowd simulation of 100000 agents

We are proud to present our next performance update: interactive simulation of 100 000 pedestrians.

While our simulation engine could already easily handle 100K pedestrians in real-time, it took some effort to visualize and animate the crowd with an acceptable frame rate (42 fps on a fast PC/GPU) in a 3D-environment. This has been made possible by current and previous students from our Game and Media Technology master program (Mèir, Stijn, Yiran, Nick, Ricky and Anne) and by the powerful Unity3D game engine, in collaboration with our acedemic spinoff, uCrowds.

During these strange Covid-times, crowds of 100K people are rare. However, smaller crowds (of say 20 000 people) can be simulated >32 times real-time. In that case, the simulation of a 4-hour event takes 7.5 minutes. Hence, faster iteration times and better interactivity are now possible.

News

The lastest news items can be found on our media page.

Click on the pictures for more information about our news items.

  • COVID-19 research project accepted

    Our research project 'Towards safe indoor and semi-indoor sports events during the COVID-19 pandemic' was accepted. It will be carried out by consortium partners TuE, LUMC, UU, PlasmaMade, ArenA, Heroes, and JKU Linz. This project is Powered by Health~Holland, Top Sector Life Sciences & Health.
    research project 'Towards safe indoor and semi-indoor sports events during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Nomination for the Utrecht Startup of the Year

    Our startup, uCrowds, has been nominated for the Utrecht Startup of the Year. Please help for us by voting for uCrowds.
    Nomination for the Utrecht Startup of the Year
  • Nomination for the Academic Startup Competition

    From no fewer than 57 contenders, the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Netherlands Academy of Technology and Innovation (AcTI) and Techleap have nominated our startup, uCrowds, as one of the 20 academic startups to compete in the finals of the second edition of the Academic Startup Competition.
    Finalist of the Academic Startup Competition
  • World Economic Forum has created a video on our R&D

    It's an honour that the World Economic Forum has created a video on our research and development. The video was entitled: Coronavirus - using crowd simulation to encourage social distancing.
    Coronavirus using crowd simulation to encourage social distancing
  • Keynote at Dutch Benelux Simulation Society

    The talk's title was: A computational simulation model of pedestrian navigation in interactive environments. From normal operation to the inclusion of social distancing.
    Crowd simulation and social distancing
  • Interactive simulation of 100 000 agents in 3D

    While our simulation engine could already easily handle 100K pedestrians in real-time, it took some effort to visualize and animate the crowd with an acceptable frame rate (42 fps on a fast PC/GPU) in a 3D-environment. This has been made possible by the powerful engine of Unity Technologies, and Mèir, Stijn, Yiran, Nick, Ricky and Anne.
    Interactive simulation of 100 000 agents in 3D
  • Coronavirus: using crowd simulation to encourage social distancing

    My article about our R&D on crowd simulation to encourage social distancing was published on theconversation.com. This article was re-published on many sites, including the World economic forum.
    Crowd simulation and social distancing
  • Innovation budget of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

    Our project 'The city as daily event' has won an Innovation budget of the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs. Together with Utrecht, CBS, Movares and uCrowds, we are going to develop a privacy-by-design 'Monitor for crowdedness'.
    Crowd simulation and social distancing
  • 314159

    We celebrate that we have reached the next milestone: real-time simulation of 𝜋 x 100.000 pedestrians on a consumer PC. Thank you Mèir Noordermeer and Stijn Herfst.
    We celebrate that we have reached our next performance milestone: real-time simulation of 314159 pedestrians on a consumer PC.
  • Some papers take 7 years to create and publish

    After 6 years of coordinating, thinking, researching, writing, coding, and publishing, our paper entitled 'Comparing navigation meshes: theoretical analysis and practical metrics' has arrived in the journal Computer and Graphics.
    Comparing navigation meshes: theoretical analysis and practical metrics
  • Real-time simulation of 220K pedestrians

    The only way is up….. And we are above 200k real-time pedestrians on our 12-core, consumer PC :-) Our students from the Utrecht University master, Game and Media Technology, have been working on parallelization on three levels. Read more about our metrics and performance simulation.
    220K real-time simulated pedestrians
  • Spread, spread, spread: how the corona crisis changes our society

    The New Scientist has written an article in the series "Voorbij de waan" about Spread, spread, spread: how the corona crisis changes our society, and how crowd simulation R&D of Utrecht University and uCrowds can help.
    Spread, spread, spread: how the corona crisis changes our society
  • Software for the 1.5-meter society

    I was interviewed about our crowd simulation software for the 1.5-meter society by the Dutch news paper, Algemeen Dagblad. 'Utrechtse informaticus ontwerpt unieke software voor 1,5 metermaatschappij: 'We kunnen van tevoren bepalen hoe druk het ergens wordt''
    Software for simulating pedestrians in 1.5-meter society
  • CLARIN Café I: CLARIN in Times of Corona

    I gave a talk in the virtual CLARIN cafe, in which I showcased the relevance of my work on crowd behaviour during social distancing times.
    CLARIN Café I
  • Computer models for safely organising buildings and public space

    Utrecht University writes about 'Computer science researcher Roland Geraerts, together with his startup company uCrowds, has adapted his crowd simulation software for 1.5-meter social distancing measures'.
    Computer models for safely organising buildings and public space
  • Innovation with a touch

    1.5 year ago, we started to develop a user interface from the ground up. We experimented with scanning physical blocks, with scanning a line drawing, and with editing the logic and scanned environment by touch.
    Innovation with a touch
  • Appearance in Dutch TV show, How it's done

    The Dutch TV show, How it's done, has aired an item about our crowd simulator R&D on RTL Z.
    Appearance of crowd simulation R&D in Dutch TV show, How it's done
  • Interview by Nieuwsuur about social distancing

    The Dutch news show, Nieuwsuur, has just aired an item about the influence of social distancing on public transportation. What will become the 'new normal'?
    Interview by Nieuwsuur about social distancing
  • Crowd simulation and social distancing

    We celebrate that we have successfully integrated the basis concept of social distancing into our pedestrian simulator, based on research done at Utrecht University and our startup, uCrowds.
    Crowd simulation and social distancing
  • Automatic 3D topography model creation

    We celebrate that we have added the functionality to create a simple 3D model of an arbitrary area in the Netherlands in our interactive, real-time pedestrian simulator.
    Automatic 3D topography model creation

About me

I am an assistant professor at the Geometric Computing group in the Department of Information and Computing Sciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. There, I obtained my PhD on sampling-based motion planning techniques. In addition, I studied quality aspects of paths and roadmaps. My current research focuses on path planning and crowd simulation in games and virtual environments. I currently teach a course on crowd simulation. I have organized the Creative Game Challenge and I am one of the cofounders of the annual Motion in Games conference.

We have created a software product (SimCrowds) for efficient crowd simulating in multi-layered 3D dynamic environments. We use the software for e.g. preparations of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, and for evacuation studies in the North/South metro line in Amsterdam.