Archive ouverte HAL – A counterintuitive way to speed up pedestrian and granular bottleneck flows prone to clogging: Can ‘more’ escape faster?

Alexandre Nicolas 1 Santiago Ibáñez 2 Marcelo Kuperman 2 Sebastián Bouzat 2

Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment, IOP Science, 2018, 2018 (8), pp.083403. 〈〉

Dense granular flows through constrictions, as well as competitive pedestrian evacuations, are hindered by a propensity to form clogs. We use
simulations of model pedestrians and experiments with granular disks to explore an original strategy to speed up these flows, which consists in including contact-averse entities in the assembly. On the basis of a minimal cellular automaton and a continuous agent-based model for pedestrian evacuation dynamics, we find that the inclusion of polite pedestrians amid a given competitive crowd fails to reduce the evacuation time when the constriction (the doorway) is acceptably large. This is not surprising, because adding agents makes the crowd larger. In contrast, when the door is so narrow that it can accommodate at most one or two agents at a time, our strategy succeeds in substantially curbing long-lived clogs and speeding up the evacuation. A similar effect is seen experimentally in a vibrated two-dimensional hopper flow with an opening narrower than 3 disk diameters. Indeed, by adding to the initial collection of neutral disks a large fraction of magnetic ones, interacting repulsively, we observe a shortening of the time intervals between successive egresses of neutral disks, as reflected by the study of their probability distribution. On a more qualitative note, our study suggests that the much discussed analogy between pedestrian flows and granular flows could be extended to some behavioural traits of individual pedestrians.

  • 1. LPTMS - Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques
  • 2. Centro Atómico Bariloche [Argentine]