Digital technologies open up great opportunities for the construction industry, especially in the areas of schedule and cost security as well as in planning quality. For example, digital twins of a future construction or infrastructure project can be used to simulate a wide variety of scenarios and test planning alternatives as early as in the development and planning phase. This not only helps to optimize planning and thus accelerate the actual construction process but also to communicate construction results and infrastructure adjustments to the public at a low-threshold level in advance and to convince customers of the planned construction project.
Over the past few years, we have already implemented several solutions in the field of digital planning. For example, our visualization framework GEARViewer creates easy-to-understand visualizations and digital twins even for the most complex infrastructure projects. We also offer support in the area of digital planning with BIM as well as simulations, which can be used in many ways, from the evaluation of constructional measures in flood protection to energy and light planning.
Cities and municipalities, in particular, are suffering from the consequences of climate change: heatwaves alternate with extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and flooding. Although climate change is a global problem, local measures, especially in urban areas, have great potential for significant improvements. The increasingly frequent and heavy rainfall can not only be tamed by innovative urban development concepts such as Sponge City but also used productively. With our unique digital simulation and visualization application Visdom, we solve real problems caused by high levels of water. Often even simple measures, such as green roofs or rainwater-fed biotopes, bring improvement. In case of an emergency, protection plans and crisis measures, which were previously developed based on our simulations, help to limit damage and save lives.
Reality capturing methods make it possible to digitally reconstruct any environment exactly as it is in reality. This is important not only because the digital copy helps to perform analyses and make decisions, but also because digital reconstruction is an important documentation. In the course of our research work, we have created solutions for this purpose that enable 3D reconstructions from point clouds with semi-automatic segmentation of existing structures. According to the principle: capture - understand - simplify. These intelligent reconstructions are the ideal starting points for even more efficient digital planning.
Our research results as well as our basic technology for reconstruction, visualization and semantic modelling are used in the reality capturing tool 3DWorx of our industrial partner rmDATA, which enables planners to quickly create a 3D model of existing buildings from point clouds derived from laser scans or photogrammetry. Additionally, the entire reconstruction chain from scan to finished product can be mapped and the derivation of relevant geometries, e.g. to facilitate the creation of plans, is also made easy. Our Geospatial Visualization, Semantic Modelling and Acquisition Research Group is specialized in the field of reality capturing and reconstruction.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) combines digital reconstructions with a variety of real-world data and information to make planning and execution processes of construction and infrastructure projects more collaborative and efficient. To further strengthen the possibilities of BIM for the construction industry, we optimize our reconstruction and reality capturing solutions to integrate them seamlessly into BIM processes. In addition, we are researching new ways of automatically generating intelligent 3D reconstructions based on BIM data. Together with construction companies, we are also working out how XR can be used to support future planning processes and beyond.
With our lighting simulation software HILITE it is possible to simulate physically exact, high-quality real-time visualization directly from BIM data, linked with information on materials, geometry, light sources, etc. In cooperation with our partner, the Österreichischen Bundesbahnen (ÖBB), we have specially tailored this technology to novel BIM planning methods for the optimal lighting of railway stations. Our Geospatial Visualization, Semantic Modelling and Acquisition research group has many years of experience in the field of lighting, light simulation and BIM.
Especially in public spaces, but also in offices and within one's home, optimal lighting is of great importance. The correct calculation of all lighting effects in a complex scene, however, poses great challenges due to the large number of parameters to be included, from light source and location to angles and physical rules regarding material properties. In many years of cooperation with Zumtobel Licht we have expanded our know-how in the field of lighting simulation and researched visualization methods for the evaluation of planning scenarios. The research results have been presented at international conferences and can also be applied to other industries such as construction and energy simulation.
Tunnels are subject to strong forces that are constantly affecting their walls. Because it is not possible to check the condition of the walls in every detail on-site, for many years methods have been developed with which tunnel walls are scanned and then reproduced as digital 3D copies. Together with our industrial partner dibit Messtechnik GmbH, a worldwide operating engineering company, we are working on improving and at the same time expanding the possibilities of tunnel monitoring by digital twins. Thanks to our applied research work, it is already possible for us to document and evaluate cracks, deformations of the tunnel structure or other damages accurately from the computer screen to carry out targeted rehabilitation work. The research results which are integrated in the dibit software are also used to support the construction phase of tunnels by geological analysis. Here it is possible to predict the rock layers the drill head will hit and accordingly, e.g. to change drilling parameters and to adjust safety measures in the tunnel.
Digital twins and models are the future of all kinds of digitization projects. This is especially true for infrastructure and construction, because digital planning and building is faster, safer and cheaper. The digital twin is born parallel to an idea, "grows" with the real object using real data and measurements and serves as a template and means of communication for planning processes as well as a simulation model in which all conceivable plans and scenarios can be played through before they are implemented. Since our research has been intensively dealing with the possible applications of digital twins for 20 years, we can already present a wide range of solutions and successfully implemented use cases, ranging from tunnel monitoring to state-of-the-art hydrodynamic modelling in the field of flood protection.
The simulation software Visdom creates the digital copy of a municipality, city or region based on real data (e.g. cadastre, terrain model, sewer network), in which various flood and heavy rain scenarios can be played through within seconds or minutes. The water rises digitally, the solutions determined by the hydrodynamic modelling are real: from construction measures to suitable locations for protective barriers and evacuation plans.
For many years we have been dealing with all aspects of hydrodynamic modelling. With our software Visdom we can model different scenarios and also offer this as a service.
We create a digital twin of a community and simulate weather events to identify high-risk buildings and infrastructure vulnerabilities.
In this project tools and methods for handling, administration, manipulation and evaluation of several different data sources for measurements and lighting design are developed.
Hands-on flood management with the Visdom decision software, which simulates and visualizes flood and heavy rain events.
Research project on powerful visualization methods to support decision making in complex infrastructure projects, especially in tunnel, railway and road construction.
Visualization and visual analysis of high-resolution surface reconstructions find a wide range of applications, from tunnel monitoring and archaeological excavations to the change management of cultural heritage buildings.
Digital representations of the real world and digital twins are becoming increasingly important for planning, situation assessment and decision-making.
Decision support system for floods and inundations for the trading district of Shenzen, China.
With the KAUST Scene Generator three-dimensional road networks can be generated from open-source OpenStreetMap data.
Flood protection through simulation and visualization: Reducing the effects of floods and communicating measures to the public.
Investigation of techniques enabling a seamless analysis of data from multi-run simulations on multiple degrees of detail.
Seamless visual analysis of data involving 3D geometry, relational information and multivariate attributes.
In order to preserve the architectural heritage, we use methods of photogrammetry, thermography, photometry as well as laser scans to carry out inventories, recognition and documentation of changes in protected buildings.
Algorithms to improve the visual analysis of surface reconstructions.
High-quality lighting simulation requires dynamic, interactive, realistic real-time lighting simulation for various complex architectural environments.
Visual Analytics for Modeling and Simulation: Improvement of simulation setup and design scenarios with tools and methods of Visual Analytics.
Improving and combining multiple sensors to increase the accuracy and reliability of modern surveying equipment.
Decision support systems and 3D viewing technologies for tunnel construction.