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. We run simulations in realistic environments and game levels to study the effectiveness of our methods.
The lastest news items can be found on our media page.
Click on the pictures for more information.
Weekend of Science: augmented-reality crowd simulation demo
We have demonstrated our augmented-reality crowd simulation demo at the Weekend of Science in Utrecht.
Users built their own environment with physical blocks, and their own scenario's with a touch interface. A computer projects an
interactive simulation of the crowd in your own environment.
Exhibition at Innovation Expo 2018
We have demonstrated our augmented-reality crowd simulation table and AR demo at the Innovation Expo 2018 in Rotterdam.
The expo's ambition is to 'Taking innovations further, realising breakthroughs, and thus contributing to the social challenges we are facing in our country and in the world.'
Take off-2 project accepted: A cloud-based software solution for simulating crowds
We have received 250K Euro funding from the Dutch government (with their Take-off 2 initiative)
for two years to grow our start-up uCrowds.
uCrowds offers a software engine for simulating crowds in big infrastructures, events or computer games.
Utrecht University and uCrowds signed collaboration and licensing agreements
After 10 years of fundamental research and applications in projects,
Utrecht University computer science researcher Dr. Roland Geraerts
and his partner Eric de Wilde are proud to introduce their new start-up uCrowds.
With the unique uCrowds software, organisations can simulate the movements of large masses
of people under a variety of circumstances. The software has already been utilised by
Schiphol Airport and during the start of the Tour de France in Utrecht.
Accepted: Foundational paper on multi-layered navigation mesh
Based on 10 years of research, I'm very happy to announce that our paper on our multi-layered navigation mesh data structure has been accepted for publication in
the journal ACM Transactions on Spatial Algorithms and Systems.
The data structure and accompanying algorithms form the basis of our crowd simulation research and development.
We have visited the ICT.OPEN 2018 conference on 19 and 20 March 2018. Arne Hillebrand
presented a poster on Measuring pedestrian safety. Wouter van Toll has presented his poster and talk on
A comparative study of navigation meshes. This poster has reveived the ICT.OPEN 2018 Best poster award (3rd prize).
We have demonstrated our crowd simulation software and research at CES 2018 in the vibrant city of Las Vegas, which
attracted many interested people.
De Kennis van Nu - Paniek in de menigte
The Dutch TV show, De Kennis van Nu (Today's knowledge) has interviewed me for an epside around the theme
Panic in the crowd.
Webinar Master's Programme Game and Media Technology
We organised a live webinar on the Master's Programme Game and Media Technology (GMT).
I have given detailed information about the Master's programme, together with MSc student Ishdeep Bandhari,
who shared his personal experiences with the programme,
and dr. Maarten Löffler, who gave live chat support.
NWO Take-off subsidy for initiating start-up uCrowds
I received a 40KEuro NWO Take-off (phase 1) grant.
This project allows me to make steps towards founding a start-up, uCrowds,
which will bring our crowd simulation software to the market.
This start-up will offer a software engine for simulating crowds in big
infrastructures, events or computer games.
Summerschool Utrecht - Multidisciplinary Game Research
We have given a masterclass on crowd simulation using our Unity3D plugin. The summer school took place from 21 to 25 August in 2017.
I've given a research presentation during Bessensap 2017, which is organised by NWO and the Vereniging voor Wetenschapsjournalistiek en –communicatie Nederland.
The presentation is entitled (in Dutch): De meute ontrafeld: simulatie en beheersing van mensenmassa's.
Boosting academic start-ups
We've discussed how barriers can be taken away which are experienced by start-ups when they go from academia to their spin out.
We hope to increase the potential of knowledge utilisation from within universities under the guidance of StartupDelta and Constantijn van Oranje.
PhD defense Wouter van Toll
My PhD student, Wouter van Toll, has successfully finished his PhD thesis entitled 'Navigation for Characters and Crowds in Complex Virtual Environments' at Utrecht University.
Research finds its way to society via UtrechtInc
We followed a 4 months program at incubator UtrechtInc to build the blueprint of our startup (in formation),
Here, we offer a software engine for simulating crowds in big infrastructures, events or computer games.
We presented ourselves in front of an independent jury and audience, and obtained the possibility to get a starting capital of 18K Euro.
Collaboration Utrecht University and Movares
We signed a collaboration agreement about crowd simulation between Utrecht University and Movares.
"It is not only about safety, but also about experience."
PhD defense Norman Jaklin
My PhD student, Norman Jalin, has successfully finished his PhD thesis entitled 'On Weighted Regions and Social Crowds: Autonomous-agent Navigation in Virtual Worlds' at Utrecht University.
Visit EU ambassadors
We have given an augmented-reality crowd simulation demo to all EU ambassadors and policy makers who paid a visit to Utrecht on May 20, 2016.
The demo displays a simulation inside a part of this city. Users can interact with the simulation by inserting or removing illuminated blocks.
This allows them to play with different scenario's in an interactive and intuitive way.
Utrecht crowd simulation software enters market
We will develop a crowd simulation engine for game developers and companies specialized in simulating large flows of people.
We have recently received a grant of 150,000 Euros from the STW technology foundation's Demonstrator Programme.
The simulation software is much more advanced than the packages currently available on the market.
In a conjunction with consulting and engineering bureau Movares the software was used by the city of Utrecht to prepare
for the start of the Tour de France.
Virtual polka dots predict spectator flows for Grand Départ
The Grand Départ of the Tour de France is expected to draw anywhere from 600,000 to 800,000 spectators to Utrecht. Simulations in a virtual Utrecht support the municipal government in planning the surroundings of the cycling course and testing the prognoses for the flows of the spectators. These innovative simulations in an unprecedentedly detailed virtual world were the result of collaboration between computer scientists at Utrecht University and the engineering and consulting bureau Movares.
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 package (SimCrowds) for efficient crowd simulating in multi-layered 3D dynamic
environments. We use the package 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.
Welcome on my home page on crowd simulation and motion planning