Meet PAMELA, the London-based Pedestrian Accessibility and Movement Environment Laboratory. A kind of local, robotic substitute for the earth's surface, PAMELA is actually an elevated platform, or "reconfigurable laboratory," upon which pedestrian behavior can be studied.
PAMELA comes complete with interchangeable walking surfaces and cool lighting effects. There is even a state-of-the-art audio system, which "helps to make the experiments more realistic." Adding "layers of noise," for instance, lets researchers see how acoustics change "a person's ability to navigate around the pedestrian environment." All of this allows "'open space' accessibility issues to be examined rigorously under controlled conditions," as researchers test simulated versions of "existing and proposed pedestrian environments" for their public safety.
Ultimately, as Spacing Wire reports, PAMELA "will enable cities to design better pedestrian infrastructure." Though I have to assume that PAMELA could also find a role in some future amusement park...
hummmm, I can tell them how people respond to being tripped in the library. :)