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Reality Modeling Empowers Governments with Digital Cities

MediaInfoline February 13, 2018

Reality modeling assists governments to keep pace with changing environments and population growth by improving planning, design, construction, and operation of urban infrastructure. The Yangzhou City Planning Bureau and the Singapore Land Authority are visionary organizations building digital cities with the aid of reality modeling. Reality modeling also enables organizations such as Sanborn to produce highly accurate 3D HD maps for autonomous driving support that can be used in simulators, bringing areas such as Santa Clara County, California closer to realizing the true potential of self-driving vehicles.

Sanborn’s Advanced Technology group has developed proprietary HD Mapping technology that creates standardized, high-precision 3D base-maps specifically for the self-driving vehicle market. ContextCapture Center enabled Sanborn to quickly produce 3D reality mesh models of the existing urban environment in busy Santa Clara County, California from Sanborn high-precision oblique imagery – substantially reducing a process that was estimated to take up to six months with three modelers to complete with traditional methods. Through the 3D reality mesh, Sanborn has been able to showcase the quality of the HD Map data to its partner automotive firms. The partners take advantage of capabilities for performing precise measurements of distances, volumes, and surface areas directly within the 3D viewing interface and the ability to share and visualize 3D models on the Web allows stakeholders to easily review vector and point data superimposed digitally on top of the high-resolution 3D reality mesh. Data sets are available for all levels of autonomous drive testing complexity – freeway, complex urban, complex parking, and more.

Sharad V. Oberoi, Ph.D., director of IT and software engineering, Sanborn, said “Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic idea. Major auto manufacturers have already released, or are soon to release, self-driving features that give the car some ability to drive itself. Through the 3D mesh generated using ContextCapture Center, Sanborn’s Advanced Technology group has been able to showcase the quality of the HD Map data, including true-ground-absolute accuracy, to its partner automotive firms. The automation of the production of 3D models of city sized projects by ContextCapture Center made the project much faster than previously possible.”

Testing automotive solutions in the real world is expensive and time-consuming. The RAND Corporation estimates that over 11 billion miles of driving is required to demonstrate that an autonomous car is only 20 percent safer than with a person behind the wheel. A thousand test cars – driving nonstop, 365 days a year – would take 50 years to reach 11 billion miles. Simulating the environment in the virtual world solves that problem in hours. The 3D reality mesh is being ingested into a simulation tool by a partner software firm for testing autonomous vehicles in the virtual world.

The AAM Group completed a vehicle-based mobile mapping survey covering 5,500 kilometers of public roads for the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and produced highly detailed 3D models for all of Singapore’s roads and city furniture including bus stops, taxi stands, light poles, traffic signs, overhead bridges, covered walkways, bollards, electrical boxes, manholes, guard rails, and railings. The data was modeled to an accuracy level of 0.3 meters to the CityGML standard using MicroStation. AAM estimated that 3,000 resource-days were saved in the development of the National 3D Map using Bentley applications.

The survey of Singapore’s roads produced 600,000 million LiDAR points and 3 million images. MicroStation provided a framework to easily integrate this data with other available data sources. ProjectWise was used throughout the life of the project to store vital information relating to subcontractors, invoicing, cashflow, monthly project meetings, and user acceptance testing (UAT) documentation. ProjectWise also allowed for seamless collaboration between the AAM office in Singapore and those in Australia. The National 3D Map will have a profound impact on Singapore’s Smart Nation agenda, providing a detailed and comprehensive 3D data set for various agencies and stakeholders to utilize for their business needs. One such example is the autonomous vehicle test site at One-North, where selected companies and researchers are conducting trials, using the 3D data set as a basemap.

In a third example, Haiwei Spatial Information Technology developed a 3D reality mesh for the Yangzhou City Planning Bureau as the foundation for a 3D GIS database to be shared with citizens and used for decision support by the city. Building the “Yangzhou 3D digital city” has great significance for the planning, construction, and management of the city – planning and design proposals can be presented to governmental decision makers in 3D reality space where the ultimate results of the plan can be easily visualized and analyzed. Image acquisition of oblique photograph data with a resolution of 3 centimeters and production of the models were completed within one month, taking advantage of the multi-node parallel computing capabilities of ContextCapture to process the very large volume of imagery in only 20 days – a task that previously took about 10 months. With the help of the mesh editing function of Descartes, three people finished revising 400 water surface models in three days and MicroStation allowed for integration of data from additional sources along with linking of attribution to the reality meshes. Labor and data acquisition costs were estimated to have been reduced by about CNY 1.2 million over previous methods.

Ming Zhang, director of marketing at Haiwei Spatial Information Technology, said, “Bentley reality modeling technology provides a complete solution, from data production, model editing, and model optimization to model application, so the incompatibility of data formats between different pieces of software and the conversion risks for data formats are avoided. The 3MX guaranteed the seamless connection of ContextCapture, Descartes, and MicroStation and reduced the time and costs of data conversion and delivery.”


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