Thursday, 21 February 2008

Virtual Construction Toolkit

During my year working at Creative North, I worked on a project for construction company JNBentley. The application's purpose was to allow the site managers to have a visual representation of the site they were currently working on. Accurate AutoCAD survey data of the site would be exported into the application which generated a realistic representation of the site, which could be viewed in full 3D.

All of the programming was done in C++ and TourqueScript with the VCT starting life as the Torque RTS Starter Kit. Huge parts of the original engine and system were rewritten during the project to cater for some of the project's requirements.

The VCT provided the ability to place site vehicles, buildings and workers in the virtual environment, and even create paths and roads for them to travel on. All the vehicles in the VCT could be controlled down to the smallest detail; with the user being able to adjust everything from the position of every arm and scoop on an excavator to the bucket on a dunper truck. Spheres of influence showed the user the exact areas that could be affected by a vehicle at any point in time, providing good visual representation of dangers on the site.

The application also featured a wide range of tools to add excavations or mark out zones. Fences and walls could be laid out, overhead cables simulated and distances measured with incredible accuracy. Notes could be placed in the environment or on specific objects to remind users of key information.

A complex scaffolding representation system was also inculded which could be adjusted in many ways allowing different weights of poles, board sizes, bay widths and much more. From this data, predicted costs could be generated for the site managers, giving them a better representation of how much the scaffolding may cost before ordering.

Environment features and underground pipework could be loaded in and generated from survey data, giving the user a visual representation of what the site may look like in 6 months time, or even to look underground.

Aprroximately halfway through development we produced a video demonstrating the application and its functionality.

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