Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

"Walkthru Project" Renders Real-Time 3D Models For Engineering And Architecture

Date:
May 25, 2001
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Computer scientists at the University of North Carolina (UNC) are helping architects and engineers to create extremely detailed virtual structures that designers can "walk through," letting them head off potential problems before a spade of dirt is overturned or a bolt is fastened.

Computer scientists at the University of North Carolina (UNC) are helping architects and engineers to create extremely detailed virtual structures that designers can "walk through," letting them head off potential problems before a spade of dirt is overturned or a bolt is fastened.

The WalkThru Project, led by UNC computer science professors Fred Brooks and Dinesh Manocha, is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Advanced Computational Infrastructure and Research. The UNC team develops new algorithms and software for advanced prototyping that could yield safer yet more cost-efficient buildings and vessels.

"The overall goal is to create interactive computer graphics systems that let a viewer experience complex 3D spatial models by simulating walk-throughs of the actual facility," said Brooks, who started the project in the mid-1980s.

The computer scientists take very large CAD/CAM (computer-assisted design and manufacture) models and render them as fully navigable 3D environments, including a tanker with 82-million separate elements and a 13-million-element electric power station. Until now, such complex virtual structures yielded slow, jerky graphics that did not permit real-time navigation and manipulation.

Cosmetically, the WalkThru tanker simulation looks coarser than what movie-goers have come to expect since Titanic. But it has a level of technical realism that more than equals anything Hollywood has done. Its 3D space is completely navigable from stem to stern, consisting of 82 million triangles.

Synthetic environments that succeed in providing a realistic experience for their users can also be used for collaboration between far-flung design teams. This helps limit travel time and costs, as an engineer in the U.S. can talk by speaker phone with a colleague overseas, while they both walk through the same 3D environment.

"One of the challenges," Manocha said, "is to develop a scalable system to achieve real-time walkthroughs of very large CAD/CAM models with high-accuracy rendering of spatial arrangements. We write efficient algorithms to accelerate rendering and improve collision detection, as when the user 'bumps' into a stationary structure."

CAD/CAM and architectural models may contain millions of small 3D elements, called "primitives." To display these models at interactive rates, developers must write algorithms to reduce the number of primitives that the graphics system is required to render. The team is also developing algorithms to assign processor priority according to each element's visibility, which permits users to see and interact with the model at a greater level of detail.

Although WalkThru Project models were developed on advanced graphical workstations made by Silicon Graphics, Inc., they will also run on high-end PCs. The walkthroughs can also be viewed in immersive virtual reality caverns that let the user experience the simulations on a life-size scale.

In 2000, Brooks received the Turing award -- the highest honor in computer science -- from the Association for Computing Machinery. Manocha was a 1995 recipient of the NSF CAREER award for promising young faculty. Other team members include UNC computer science faculty Anselmo Lastra (rendering acceleration algorithms) and Ming Lin (collision detection and proximity simulation).

"Over the years, this project has depended on excellent graduate students who have gone on to work at places such as Lucent Bell Labs, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia and other top institutions," Brooks said. "Our faculty have paid close attention to the educational aspect."

The team's simulation and 3D model of a coal-fired power plant are available for non-commercial public use. Collaborative partners of the WalkThru Project include General Dynamics, Newport News Shipbuilding and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In addition to NSF, other federal sponsors have included the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Army and Navy, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

For more about the WalkThru Project, see: http://www.cs.unc.edu/~walk

For 3D animations, see: http://www.cs.unc.edu/~geom/rendering/videos.shtml


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. ""Walkthru Project" Renders Real-Time 3D Models For Engineering And Architecture." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 May 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010523072356.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2001, May 25). "Walkthru Project" Renders Real-Time 3D Models For Engineering And Architecture. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010523072356.htm
National Science Foundation. ""Walkthru Project" Renders Real-Time 3D Models For Engineering And Architecture." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010523072356.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What HealthKit Bug Means For Your iOS Fitness Apps

What HealthKit Bug Means For Your iOS Fitness Apps

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Apple has delayed the launch of the HealthKit app platform, citing a bug. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Apple's new operating system, iOS 8, comes with Apple's killswitch feature already activated, unlike all the models before it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Let's Review Apple's Latest iPhone Reviews

Let's Review Apple's Latest iPhone Reviews

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The tech press has shared its thoughts on the latest iterations of Apple's iPhone. We summarize the reactions to help you decide: iPhone 6 or 6 Plus? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins