We are back with a new instalment in our series of interviews with innovative start-ups and companies in the mobility sector. Today, we discuss with Dr. Angelika Kneidl, co-founder of the Munich-based start-up accu:rate, which offers consulting and software for pedestrian dynamics. Gain a closer look at this young yet very promising field – and discover its potential applications in the mobility sector.
What is the story behind the Institute for crowd simulation? Tell us more about your crowd:it software.
After completing my research on modelling pedestrians’ navigational behaviour at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) I was still fascinated by the topic and the impact it can have on public safety. I decided to continue my work in this field and founded accu:rate along with Florian Sesser. Since 2014, we have offered consulting services along with Software as a Service (SaaS) for crowd simulation. Our crowd:it software is based on the latest research in pedestrian dynamics and differentiates between various characteristics and behavioural patterns, e.g. the difference in the behaviour of groups and individuals.
Your models are based on assumptions. Which business sectors can benefit from your work?
Most crowd simulation programs only focus on evacuations. Using our new model, crowd:it delivers valid results not only for evacuations, but also for operational procedures, such as the flow of workers in office buildings and on production sites. It also works for the flow of visitors in transportation infrastructure buildings like airports and railway stations. Basically everyone who gets added value from information about pedestrian movement can benefit from crowd simulation – whether urban planners, mobility providers, architects, operators, contractors, event planners or safety experts.
You have run some simulations on traffic and mobility. How are your results in terms of efficiency and cost reduction?
In transportation infrastructure buildings such as airports and railway stations, information on crowd behaviour is crucial, because there are simultaneously many people with different goals in one place. One is a regular commuter who knows her way around and always takes the fastest route. Another is leaving on holiday with his family, gets something to read and isn’t in a hurry. Yet another is on a business trip, but has never been to this airport before. They all have different behavioural patterns.
With this in mind, you can stress-test the layout of your building as early as in the planning phase and avoid costly remodelling later on because your layout didn’t meet the requirements of the intended usage. Simulations also help optimise existing structures. Returning to the airport example, you can analyse the location and turnover of the different info points, counters, or turnstiles.
As you already mentioned, thanks to the company’s innovative software, your team can analyse passenger flows at transportation hubs. Can you please explain how mobility providers can benefit?
Yes, of course. The focus of the automotive sector is shifting away from its core business and moving towards establishing itself as a mobility provider. Especially when it comes to on-demand mobility solutions, crowd simulation can provide powerful information about where to position car fleets or where to install charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) depending on movement patterns in cities. We are also involved in an international research project that will enable making short-term predictions on crowd behaviour based on video monitoring. This, in combination with data from new technologies in the mobility sector like self-driving on-demand cars (robotaxis), could be a major step forward in designing smart cities.
Thanks a lot for letting us know how other companies can benefit from your knowledge on crowd simulation. We are looking forward to hearing more about your innovative software in the future!
More information at www.accu-rate.de