Do dense crowds behave as granular matter ? by C. Appert-Rolland et al
An experiment inspired by the study of granular matter
has been realized, in which an intruder is crossing
a dense static crowd. The displacement field around
the intruder reveals that, though there are similarities
with grains, some deep differences could also be found.
Indeed, pedestrians anticipate, leading to a depletion
in front of the intruder and not only behind.
Besides, the displacements are almost exclusively lateral,
in contrast with the front-rear circulation observed in grains.
These findings question the models currently used to model
dense crowds, which assume in general that mechanical forces
fully constrain pedestrians’ behavior at high densities -
at odds with our findings.
link to the paper