ITcon Vol. 13, pg. 564-577,

General-purpose construction simulation and visualization tools for modelling and animating urban vehicular traffic operations

submitted:February 2008
revised:October 2008
published:December 2008
editor(s):Messner J
authors:Brian W. Timm, Research Engineer
Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA 98052, USA
Formerly BSE Student of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Michigan

Vineet R. Kamat, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
summary:This paper illustrates how general-purpose simulation and visualization tools primarily designed to study construction operations can be effectively used to model and animate vehicular traffic flows in urban transportation networks. A high-fidelity simulation model and a corresponding 3D visualization describing traffic flow at a busy 3-way signalized intersection are presented. The model and animation demonstrate how simulation and visualization can be used to study vehicle interaction in a transportation network, given data on the expected volume of traffic over intervals of time. The characteristic that distinguishes the presented work is the capability to model and animate vehicular traffic operations with high fidelity using general-purpose discrete event simulation and visualization tools typically used to model and animate construction operations. The focus of the research has been on evaluating the capabilities of state-of-the-art construction simulation and visualization tools in being able to accurately model and animate traffic operations. The presented model simulates several different scenarios and traffic control strategies, and can be a valuable tool in the efficient design of signalized traffic intersections. The solution to the problem is modelled in detail using the simulation tool STROBOSCOPE (MARTINEZ, 1996) and has been animated in 3D using VITASCOPE (Kamat, 2003). The obtained results highlight the potential that general-purpose tools, even if originally designed for specific purposes, can be effective in studying operations involving the interaction of entities in multiple domains such as construction and traffic flow, thereby enabling their use in studying mixed operations such as the effect of roadway construction (e.g. lane closures, slow construction vehicles, etc.) on existing vehicular traffic.
keywords:Animation, Discrete-Event Simulation, Traffic Operations, Verification, Validation, Visualization
full text: (PDF file, 0.84 MB)
citation:Timm B W, Kamat V R (2008). General-purpose construction simulation and visualization tools for modelling and animating urban vehicular traffic operations, ITcon Vol. 13, Special issue Virtual and Augmented Reality in Design and Construction, pg. 564-577,