BIM technology provides all the relevant information of a project and can be accessed by stakeholders during the building process. Civil infrastructure projects such as roadway design have been slowly catching up with this trend due to the benefits it provides.
“Right now, all the design trends are going towards 3D,” says Andres Velez, Product Manager at Transoft Solutions. If designers need to look closer at an object, create a design with accurate specifications or mould more a realistic scenario, 3D design technology allows for it, he says.
Transoft Solutions is the software company responsible for the most popular swept-path analysis software used be government agencies, engineering consultants and transportation design professionals worldwide – AutoTURN.
The AutoTURN software is known for its realistic vehicle movement simulations and swept-path analysis for road design, which measures the vehicle’s off-tracking, or the difference in movement between the front and rear wheels.
AutoTURN has been a staple product in the road design industry since its inception in the early 1990s. As Mr. Velez explains, each new version of the software is adding new tools to provide better swept-path analysis and design options.
The 3D simulation and analysis capabilities in AutoTURN were incorporated back in 2009. This was a bit ahead of its time since it is only in recent years that designers have started to work in 3D for analytical purposes at different stages of design.
The latest version of the AutoTURN (AutoTURN 9.1) has followed the current design trends and improved its 3D capabilities. Mr. Velez says that the use of the 3D vehicle swept-path envelope, in conjunction with the enhanced reporting tools in AutoTURN, provides designers with a broader range of analysis capabilities. This makes it easier to check the highest or widest clearance points of an oversized load in 3D for obstructions along a path.
“Sometimes, when analysing designs in 3D, it can be hard to identify where conflicts between vehicle and the terrain or the surrounding infrastructure may take place,” he says. The 3D vehicle swept-path envelope in AutoTURN enables the designer to identify where these interferences may take place, such as vehicle to surface conflicts on a roundabout. Mr. Velez says that designers can now simulate vehicle manoeuvres in 3D to verify both horizontal geometry and vertical profiles simultaneously. This provides a more comprehensive and realistic analysis of a design than in 2D.
Although 3D simulations provide designers with a better understanding of the vehicle and its movement, terrain interaction and whenever a conflict takes place, it can be hard for the designer to determine its severity. A closer look at the critical or conflict areas is needed.
One or multiple cross sections of the 3D swept-path envelope will help determine the severity of these conflicts. The latest version of AutoTURN incorporates the ability to generate multiple cross sections using a user-specified interval, allowing the designer to produce as many sections as they deem convenient to better design the asset.
Even though the 3D simulation benefits are quite tangible, in early design stages, it is unlikely that all the information required to produce a 3D model is available. A simplistic approach, which allows the designer to verify profile geometry for a vehicle, would help to identify possible conflicts between the vehicle and terrain profile. The new AutoTURN software allows for this type of analysis. “When placing the vehicle profile along the terrain profile, the ability to link the simulation to the profile geometry, allows the designer to quickly adjust the geometry to suit the design vehicles,” says Mr. Velez.
The capabilities of AutoTURN extend even further than vertical geometry. Mr. Velez explains that designers can now customise specific shapes and attach them to a vehicle. This allows the designer to simulate vehicle models that traditionally exceed the normal bounds of a design vehicle. This includes agricultural machinery, fire trucks with protruding bumpers and ladders and even snow ploughs. “You can select a pre-drafted shape, attach it to the vehicle and get the swept-path of the vehicle and object,” he says.
Projects sometimes require designers to evaluate these vehicles with special characteristics, such as an emergency vehicle with protruding elements or oversized loads that exceeds the vehicle itself. Modelling these shapes in 3D to analyse its envelope can be challenging and time consuming. A simpler alternative consists of tracking the critical points representing the extent of the load or the protruding elements and analysing their envelope. “If you have the coordinates of the critical points relative to the vehicle, you don’t need to model the entire load in 3D,” says Mr. Velez. “The ability to set up tracking points will generate the envelope to facilitate the analysis.”
The latest version of AutoTURN adds four new vehicles from the Australian Standard for Parking Facilities to the 52 new Australian vehicles already in the software’s vehicle library, which includes 2006 to 2013 standard vehicles from Austroads. This provides a wider spectrum of vehicles, Mr. Velez explains, which ultimately help the designer to verify different scenarios for the right set of design vehicles based on the corresponding guidelines.
AutoTURN, as a design tool, is further enhanced by its ability to record videos of a simulation and convert it into a simple Audio Video Interleave (AVI) file. Previous versions required additional software to produce these types of videos. Now, the designer can used the predefined cameras in 3D, record a video from a simulation quickly and present it to a client.
Mr. Velez says that constant contact and feedback from customers has been a key component of the design process for the AutoTURN 9.1 and its new features. In AutoTURN 9.0, the focus was on making creation and editing faster, and introducing vertical tools, which was done using 2D, he says.
“AutoTURN 9.1 adds to those elements and has refined the 3D concept and made it as easy to use as 2D,” says Mr. Velez.