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.
I am an assistant professor at the Virtual Worlds 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.
I supervise three PhD students and many MSc students. We have created a software package 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 Noord/Zuid-lijn in Amsterdam.