3D Modeling: The Future Generation of Transportation Engineering

Aug 15, 2019
Press Mmi The Future Generation Of Transportation Engineering M 2019

Traditionally, 3D models of transportation systems are created with a logical approach and the intention of telling a straightforward story. In these models, details such as lighting and textures are often left to the imagination of the people on the receiving end of our work. 3D modeling developed its origin in the movie, video game, and graphic design industries for the purposes of artistic design and visual appeal, to show details from how the sun reflects off of a brick wall, to the soil that builds up in an expansion joint of the sidewalk. The addition of detail to a 3D model adds accuracy, ensures visual cohesion, and supports the viewer’s immersion in the overall story of the design. With the future of greater computing power, Transportation Engineers like myself are becoming capable of generating models that combine both the logical and artistic sides of the 3D modeling coin. As our modeling abilities grow, we will be able to efficiently generate more detailed transportation models that have greater predictive accuracy and communicate our designs more efficiently.

3D Modeling for More Accurate Design
Accuracy is a matter we pride ourselves on at Milone & MacBroom, and it is an integral part of any project. We as engineers are capable of creating 3D models with more detail and precision than ever before. By using today’s technology to its full capabilities and utilizing a greater understanding of the design aspects of modeling, we will be able to further streamline our design process. By achieving a higher level of accuracy in our models, we are paving the road for easier communication and corrections. These benefits ultimately allow us to achieve greater project efficiency and overall, culminate in a faster, higher-quality final design. Here at Milone & MacBroom we are planning to implement 3D modeling for future bridge and roadway projects for the purpose of creating clear representations of the finished vision for clients and the public. We also intend to create traffic simulations to show the effect of new signal plans on vehicles queues and wait times.

3D Modeling as a Communication Tool
Communication plays a key role in civil engineering. Whether you are talking with clients in meetings or speaking with the community in a public hearing, every stakeholder involved needs to know what the final design will look like, and what impacts are being made on the existing conditions. Using a 2D representation has its constraints, and by utilizing an artistic approach with a 3D model, these demands become well within our range of capabilities. By using a detailed 3D model, we are giving the best representation of the final design prior to construction, and we can create these models accurately with ease. For example, we can take survey data of a street and import it into a modeling program (like 3DS Max) to create a pinpoint precise model of the existing ground conditions. We can then modify this base model to show our new grading. By using additional field measurements and Google Street View, we can make scale models of buildings, trees, light posts, etc. Then, in programs like PhotoShop we can make photo realistic textures, apply them to our models, and light our scenes to show how the project will look after construction at any time of day. This would also allow us to communicate ideas and edits to our colleagues more efficiently. What’s intended in notes and a sketch can be misunderstood, but with the integration of 3D modeling, we can take a screen shot and sketch over it, creating a new visual aid to reduce miscommunication. This benefits us by reducing our back and forth edits, allowing for faster turnaround times on project milestones.

Click here to learn more about Milone & MacBroom's approach to transportation and traffic engineering.