Utrecht University’s own Dr. Roland Geraerts and Prof. Marc van Kreveld will develop a crowd simulation engine for game developers and companies specialised in simulating large flows of people. They have recently received a grant of 150,000 Euros from the STW technology foundation’s Demonstrator Programme. The simulation software developed by the computer scientists in Utrecht 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.
Crowd simulation software is increasingly utilised to prepare for situations in which large flows of people will have to be organised and controlled. These include events such as Coronation day, construction work on a large train station or an emergency at a football stadium. The software developed at Utrecht University is capable of rapidly calculating the effect that the placement of stages, fences, toilets, etc. would have on the flow of people, or what happens if 10,000, 20,000 or 30,000 more visitors come to the event. With the grant from STW, they will be able to expand their software with the results of their most recent research and adapt it to fully integrate with current software systems, including the popular game engine Unity3D.
One million characters
Utrecht’s crowd simulation software is built in such a way that a single PC can simulate more than one million characters. The commercially available crowd simulation does not support that. The software developed in Utrecht is also better at simulating the characters’ real-time reactions to adjustments in the surroundings than the ‘state of the art’ simulation software, or even the best computer games.