How vision governs the collective behaviour of dense cycling pelotons

J. Belden, M. M. Mansoor, A. Hellum, S. R. Rahman, A. Meyer, C. Pease, J. Pacheco, S. Koziol, T. T. Truscott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

In densely packed groups demonstrating collective behaviour, such as bird flocks, fish schools or packs of bicycle racers (cycling pelotons), information propagates over a network, with individuals sensing and reacting to stimuli over relatively short space and time scales. What remains elusive is a robust, mechanistic understanding of how sensory system properties affect interactions, information propagation and emergent behaviour. Here, we show through direct observation how the spatio-temporal limits of the human visual sensory system govern local interactions and set the network structure in large, dense collections of cyclists. We found that cyclists align in patterns within a + 308 arc corresponding to the human near-peripheral visual field, in order to safely accommodate motion perturbations. Furthermore, the group structure changes near the end of the race, suggesting a narrowing of the used field of vision. This change is consistent with established theory in psychology linking increased physical exertion to the decreased field of perception. Our results show how vision, modulated by arousaldependent neurological effects, sets the local arrangement of cyclists, the mechanisms of interaction and the implicit communication across the group. We furthermore describe information propagation phenomena with an analogous elastic solid mechanics model. We anticipate our mechanistic description will enable a more detailed understanding of the interaction principles for collective behaviour in a variety of animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20190197
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Volume16
Issue number156
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bicycling
  • Collective behaviour
  • Cycling pelotons
  • Visual field
  • Visual sensory system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'How vision governs the collective behaviour of dense cycling pelotons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this