Open Access Research

Adaptive pedestrian behaviour for the preservation of group cohesion

Giuseppe Vizzari*, Lorenza Manenti and Luca Crociani

Author Affiliations

Complex Systems and Artificial Intelligence research center, Università degli Studi di Milano–Bicocca, Milano, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

Complex Adaptive Systems Modeling 2013, 1:7  doi:10.1186/2194-3206-1-7

Published: 27 March 2013

Abstract

Purpose

A crowd of pedestrians is a complex system in which individuals exhibit conflicting behavioural mechanisms leading to self-organisation phenomena. Computer models for the simulation of crowds represent a consolidated type of application, employed on a day-to-day basis to support designers and decision makers. Most state of the art models, however, generally do not consider the explicit representation of pedestrians aggregations (groups) and their implications on the overall system dynamics. This work is aimed at discussing a research effort systematically exploring the potential implication of the presence of groups of pedestrians in different situations (e.g. changing density, spatial configurations of the environment).

Methods

The paper describes an agent-based model encompassing both traditional individual motivations (i.e. tendency to stay away from other pedestrians while moving towards the goal) and an adaptive mechanism representing the influence of group presence in the simulated population. The mechanism is designed to preserve the cohesion of specific types of groups (e.g. families and friends) even in high density and turbulent situations. The model is tested in simplified scenarios to evaluate the implications of modelling choices and the presence of groups.

Results

The model produces results in tune with available evidences from the literature, both from the perspective of pedestrian flows and space utilisation, in scenarios not comprising groups; when groups are present, the model is able to preserve their cohesion even in challenging situations (i.e. high density, presence of a counterflow), and it produces interesting results in high density situations that call for further observations and experiments to gather empirical data.

Conclusions

The introduced adaptive model for group cohesion is effective in qualitatively reproducing group related phenomena and it stimulates further research efforts aimed at gathering empirical evidences, on one hand, and modelling efforts aimed at reproducing additional related phenomena (e.g. leader-follower movement patterns).

Keywords:
Agent-based modelling and simulation; Crowd simulation; Adaptive behaviours