Transport infrastructure is expensive, and decisions executed today have a huge financial cost and implications that can last for decades. It is vital for decision-makers to be able to see the consequences of investments before costly real-world trials take place.
The TSC’s Modelling and Visualisation team is developing ways of accurately modelling real-time data in ways that can be easily manipulated and understood, such as computer models that operate on city-wide scales and show how developments will perform relative to all modes of transport and traffic flows.
Meanwhile our Visualisation Laboratory is looking to take these models a step further, creating simulations of environments in Virtual Reality which use gaming technology and populating them with real world data. This will allow decision makers to not only see but experience their designs in a way that mimics real life.
The possibilities are endless, but there is still work to be done in order to unlock the full value of this kind of activity. As we move towards this goal, we often find ourselves asking the same questions:
How can we build virtual worlds faster?
What barriers stand in our way?
Do we have to sacrifice accuracy for convenience?
On 15th March, the Visualisation Team hosted their first workshop to try and answer these questions.
Watch the highlights in the video above.
Much like any infrastructure project, building virtual 3D worlds is notoriously complex. A wide mix of technologies, techniques and industries are involved for a variety of reasons. Some worlds are built to show large scale geographic information, while others are built to enable interaction and manipulation in Virtual Reality.
We were very pleased to welcome 35 speakers and guests with an array of specialities including 3D modelling, LIDAR survey capture, procedural generation and geographical information systems (GIS). Presentations included:
Following the inspiring talks, we broke for lunch. It was fantastic to see so many conversations between people and industries who may never have been brought together otherwise. No one missed a chance to take a tour of our Visualisation Lab.
The afternoon workshop set out to map every obstacle to building virtual environments. Everyone was split into loose groups that rotated around seven topics, gathering ideas on post-it notes. In total, 395 ideas were captured that reflected eight key barrier themes: accuracy, processing, distribution, financial, skills, user interface, file size, and legal/security.
Moving forward, the consensus was that the largest opportunities lay with distribution and mass market access to the models. Difficulties managing expectations and a shortage of appropriate skills, particularly cross-industry, become increasingly apparent through the workshop. The skills element highlights other work the TSC has been undertaking in the transport industry, which suggests that new technologies are increasingly creating skills gaps in the section which will hamstring innovation.
Issues such as processing however, will likely be solved by the relevant industry, with minimal input from consumers.
We would like to thank all our guests and staff for an excellent and insightful day. There is much to be done before 3D worlds are created easily, particularly for virtual reality. Here at the Transport Systems Catapult, we will be focusing on bringing people together for future collaborations, research and education. If you would like to get involved or learn more, please contact us.