If we consider the involvement of BIM technology (seeing things in 3D) in infrastructural projects to be a big step forward for engineering, then the use of virtual reality in road designs is somewhat of a revolution.
Barcelona roads team members Sergio Casado (draughtsman) and Julio Alcobendas (civil engineer) have demonstrated that integrating both technologies could be of enormous benefit in terms of being able to anticipate issues.
They have come up with a simulator which makes users feel as though they’re driving along a road before it has even been built. “It’s like looking out of a window before the building’s gone up. This opens up a world of possibilities which until now we have not explored, where we will be able to correct things or make decisions on important aspects of the road and how it behaves”.
The project has been named Simcovir (Simulador de Conducción Virtual, or ‘Virtual Driving Simulator’) and recreates virtual surroundings, into which a car and atmospheric factors are programmed so that the road, the driver, and the landscape can interact.
“Transitioning from real life to a virtual reality founded on the BIM philosophy was an obvious choice,” says Casado. The pair have already demonstrated how useful this tool is to a number of clients. In concrete terms, it has been used successfully to make decisions on road markings and improve visibility.
Being a realistic simulator, both in the geometry of the road and the physical aspects of the vehicle and its surroundings, it can be used to recreate any scenario, and analyse results in order to perfect the design.
Simcovir is now out of the design phase, and we started to include it in tenders last December as an RDI improvement. Alongside this, a mobile app that the client will be able to download and use to get a first general impression of a project is already in development.