Collective Dynamics 2024: Propagation of controlled frontward impulses through standing crowds

S. Feldmann, J. Adrian and M. Boltes

Collective Dynamics 2024


Impulse propagation in crowds is a phenomenon that is crucial for understanding collective dynamics, but has been scarcely addressed so far. Therefore, we have carried out experiments in which persons standing in a crowd are pushed forward in a controlled manner.
Variations of experimental parameters include (i) the intensity of the push, (ii) the initial inter-person distance, (iii) the preparedness of participants and (iv) the crowd formation. Our analysis links the intensity of an impulse recorded by a pressure sensor with individual movements of participants based on head trajectories recorded by overhead cameras and 3D motion capturing data.

The propagation distance as well as the propagation speed of the external impact depends mainly on the intensity of the impulse, whereas no significant effect regarding the preparedness of participants could be found. Especially the propagation speed is influenced by the initial inter-person distance. From the comparison between two methods that detect the time of motion due to the impulse, a more sensitive result is obtained when the velocity of three landmarks of the human body is taken into account and not only the forward displacement of the center of mass. Furthermore, the more intertwined participants are in relation to each other, the more the impulse is distributed to the sides. As a result, more people are affected, however with smaller individual displacements.

Access to publication