Smart Simulation of Crowds

The “autonomous pedestrians” designed by Terzopoulos and graduate student Wei Shao,  are governed by three different layers of behavior.

  1. A motion layer handles basic movement, such as walking, running, standing, and sitting.
  2. On top of this sits a reactive layer, which allows the characters to respond to obstacles or other characters they encounter; it also enables them to perform simple behaviors that people normally take for granted, such as walking around a bench in order to sit on it.
  3. But where the real complexity comes from is the top, cognitive layer. “This is where the agent is able to think ahead about what it’s going to do in the future,” says Terzopoulos. “It’s a comprehensive cognitive model of people from the ground up.”

Smart simulation of Crowds can be used for several interesting applications. These include:

  • Movies (that stampede scene in Lion King, Battle scene in the Lord of the Rings)
  • Games
  • Fire and disaster assessments in large public spaces
  • Smart Surveillance Networks

From Virtual Extras by Duncan Graham-Rowe at MIT Technology Review