Modeling and simulation of transportation environments represents valuable tools for transportation planners, researchers and system operators. The latest generation takes another step closer to true, real-world, real-time transportation information systems by meshing real-time data and information with virtual world models to generate real-time virtual models. Real-time data from CCTV cameras, vehicle GPS, pedestrian GPS, transit systems and other real-time data points are integrated with transportation network models, urban environment models, GIS databases and software modeling tools to establish real-time modeling and simulation applications. The University of Maryland’s Center for Advanced Transportation Technology Laboratory (CATT Lab) has been at the forefront of the development of real-time, virtual transportation models. The CATT Lab’s Real-time, 3D Visualization System meshes data aggregated by the lab’s Regional Integrated Transportation Information System (RITIS) and other real-time, historical and static transportation data and information to produce real-time transportation and traffic models of the Washington D.C. region.
The University of Southern California’s Integrated Media Systems Center is also generating real-time applications that generate virtual real-time models for transportation systems. The models utilize captured real-world, real-time data and integrates the information with virtual transportation network mapping, GIS information and supporting transportation models. Also known as Geo-Immersion, the models provide real-time tools for both the traveler as well as the transportation professional.
Research is also being conducted at a number of levels to address voids or “gaps” in real-time data required for a comprehensive augmentation. Algorithms are being developed to project, predict and determine real-time transportation characteristics in locations where real-time CCTV imagery or vehicle detection, or other probe data is absent. The following video from Georgia Tech illustrates several approaches to addressing these real-time data needs.
The potential real-world value for real-time virtual world modeling as transportation planning, research and operations support tools are just being discovered. However, as data coverage continues to rapidly expand, it’s certain that these tools will only gain in accuracy. Where do you see these tools supporting your day-to-day life, and if you are a transportation professional, do you see these tools playing a major role in your typical job functions?