Florian Berton Ph.D. Defense

Florian Berton PhD defense entitled “Immersive Virtual Crowds: Evaluation of Pedestrian Behavior in Virtual Reality“, which will take place on Monday, December 14 th, 2020 at 2:00 pm. 
Information of the defense:
The jury will be composed of :
– BOULIC Ronan, Maître d’Enseignement et de Recherche, EPFL (Rapporteur)
– PELECHANO Nuria, Professeure à l’Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL (Rapporteure)
– MARCHAND Eric, professeur Université Rennes 1 (Examinateur)
– O’SULLIVAN Carol, Professeure au Trinity College (Examinatrice)
– WARREN William, Professeur à l’université Brown (Examinateur)
– PETTRE Julien, Chercheur Senior à l’INRIA Rennes(Directeur de la thèse)
– OLIVIER Anne-Hélène, Maître de Conférence à de l’Université Rennes 2 (Encadrante de la thèse)
– HOYET Ludovic, Chercheur à l’INRIA Rennes (Encadrant de la thèse)
Virtual Reality (VR) has become more and more used as a tool to study human behaviour. Indeed, its use provides absolute control over experimental conditions and can reproduce the same stimulus for all participants. In this thesis, we use VR to investigate pedestrian behaviour in crowds in order to subsequently improve crowd simulators. In particular we are interested in a coupled analysis of locomotion and gaze in order to understand and model the interaction neighbourhood during navigation. In our first work, we evaluated the impact of VR on gaze activity during an interaction between two  pedestrians, in a study where participants performed a collision avoidance task in a real and virtual environment. We then studied a more complex situation which is the navigation in a crowded street. We again evaluated the impact of VR on gaze activity and then explored the impact of crowd density on this activity. Finally, in a third study we simulated the collisions that occur when navigating in a dense crowd using haptic rendering, and evaluated the influence of such rendering on participants’ locomotion. In conclusion, our results show that VR is a relevant tool to study pedestrian behaviour in crowds. In particular, with recent technological innovations, this tool is appropriate for the study of gaze activity, which to date has been little explored for this kind of situation.

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