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.


Click on the picture(s) for more information.

  • NWO Take-off subsidy for initiating start-up uCrowds

    I received a 40KEuro NWO Take-off (phase 1) grant. This project allows me to make steps towards founding a start-up, uCrowds, which will bring our crowd simulation software to the market. This start-up will offer a software engine for simulating crowds in big infrastructures, events or computer games. Among other things, we are looking for an enthusiastic and skilled entrepreneur who can enrich our team.
    Logo uCrowds.
  • Summerschool Utrecht - Multidisciplinary Game Research

    We have given a masterclass on crowd simulation using our Unity3D plugin. The summer school took place from 21 to 25 August in 2017.
    A crowd in Unity3D generated by our crowd simulation plugin.
  • Bessensap 2007

    I've given a research presentation during Bessensap 2017, which is organised by NWO and the Vereniging voor Wetenschapsjournalistiek en –communicatie Nederland. The presentation is entitled (in Dutch): De meute ontrafeld: simulatie en beheersing van mensenmassa's.
    Bessensap 2017.
  • Boosting academic start-ups

    We've discussed how barriers can be taken away which are experienced by start-ups when they go from academia to their spin out. We hope to increase the potential of knowledge utilisation from within universities under the guidance of StartupDelta and Constantijn van Oranje.
    Discussions about start-ups and knowledge utilization.
  • PhD defense Wouter van Toll

    My PhD student, Wouter van Toll, has successfully finished his PhD thesis entitled 'Navigation for Characters and Crowds in Complex Virtual Environments' at Utrecht University.
    Phd thesis of Wouter van Toll: Navigation for Characters and Crowds in Complex Virtual Environments.
  • Research finds its way to society via UtrechtInc

    We followed a 4 months program at incubator UtrechtInc to build the blueprint of our startup (in formation), uCrowds. Here, we offer a software engine for simulating crowds in big infrastructures, events or computer games. We presented ourselves in front of an independent jury and audience, and obtained the possibility to get a starting capital of 18K Euro.
    Our startup, uCrowds, meets prince Constantijn. We offer a software engine for simulating crowds in big infrastructures, events or computer games.

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.