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, including our own startup, uCrowds. We run simulations in realistic environments and game levels to study the effectiveness of our methods. This way, we contribute to a more safe and fun world.


Click on the pictures for more information about our news items.

  • 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.
    Augmented-reality crowd simulation demo
  • 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.'
    Innovation expo 2018
  • 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.
    Unity3D plugin
  • 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.
    Unity3D plugin
  • 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.
    Multi-layered navigation mesh
  • ICT.OPEN 2018

    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).
    ICT.OPEN 2018
  • CES 2018

    We have demonstrated our crowd simulation software and research at CES 2018 in the vibrant city of Las Vegas, which attracted many interested people.
    CES 2018

About me

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.

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 North/South metro line in Amsterdam.