Robust spatial self-organization in crowds of asynchronous pedestrians



Takenori Tomaru, Yuta Nishiyama, Claudio Feliciani, Hisashi Murakami



Human crowds display various self-organized collective behaviours, such as the spontaneous formation of unidirectional lanes in bidirectional pedestrian flows. In addition, parts of pedestrians’ footsteps are known to be spontaneously synchronized in one-dimensional, single-file crowds. However, footstep synchronization in crowds with more freedom of movement remains unclear. We conducted experiments on bidirectional pedestrian flows (24 pedestrians in each group) and examined the relationship between collective footsteps and self-organized lane formation. Unlike in previous studies, pedestrians did not spontaneously synchronize their footsteps unless following external auditory cues. Moreover, footstep synchronization generated by external cues disturbed the flexibility of pedestrians’ lateral movements and increased the structural instability of spatial organization. These results imply that, without external cues, pedestrians marching out of step with each other can efficiently self-organize into robust structures. Understanding how asynchronous individuals contribute to ordered collective behaviour might bring innovative perspectives to research fields concerned with self-organizing systems.




Journal of the Royal Society Interface: