Software Training in the USA

1 January 2009

Om goed te kunnen weergeven wat op de bouwplaats gebeurt, werken we binnen ASPARi naar interactieve animaties. Die animaties spelen een belangrijke rol in het overleg met de ploegen. In april ging Seirgei Miller de VS om de software beter te leren kennen (verslag in Engels).

As you have probably noticed browsing our ASPARi website, we use asphalt temperature data and GPS data to create visualizations that make the Hot Mix Asphalt (HMA) paving and compaction process explicit. Temperature Contour Plots show the extent of temperature homogeneity, Compaction Contour Plots show the variability in compaction and animations show exactly how work was undertaken during the process. First step in the visualization are the 2D animations created using MATLAB. TheMATLAB output is converted to .avi files for playback in a standard media player. Also, our in-house software AsphaltOpen, developed by Dr. Timo Hartmann, is a tool that consistently visualizes data collected with advanced GPS and temperature devices and presents them a format that is meaningful and understandable for the people involved in the paving process.

The raw data needs to be preprocessed. Most of these tasks and routines are undertaken in several steps requiring data transformation using text files, spreadsheets and various software. In preprocessing the data are filtered, smoothened, calibrated and fixed to the terrain. Preprocessing takes about a day. Once the data are preprocessed the creation of the 2D visuals is straightforward and takes a few minutes.

The next step is to take the 2D data and bring those into a 4D model (3D plus time). The 4D model is used to play back the paving and compaction process to the crews and show it from different angles and camera positions. The more realistic these animation look, and the more interactive the model, the more involved the crews are in the analysis. Our first “realistic” animations (see also: example) were created in 4DQuest. It looks great but there are two major drawbacks: it takes a lot of time to create and it has limited interactivity. For the future run we had to look for a different shell to generate the 4D process animations.

At the Trimble Conference in Las Vegas (see also: impression) we got in to contact with XYZ Solutions (a Trimble company). The XYZ Solutions software (see also: XYZ-website) seemed to offer the inteactivity and fast rendering we were looking for. Furthermore, it offered opportunities to automate and integrate the data within one software package. To get to the heart of the matter ASPARi researcher, Seirgei Miller, attended a week-long training course at the XYZ Solutions headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia in the USA in April 2009. XYZ Solutions, Inc. offers modeling and simulation products and services to organizations that need CAD, 3D assets and terrain models for visualization, simulation and decision support solutions requiring real-time 3D visual content in a virtual reality environment. In the past they already developed 3D visual applications for the construction industry. Applications to monitor and visualize: Asset tracking, Vehicle health and maintenance issues, Procedural and safety compliance, Daily performance metrics, Cost to various aspects, Driver assistance & Training simulators.

Seirgei worked with XYZ staff members Kelly Miller, Larry Rosenbalm, Augusto Opdenbosch and Juan Carlos Santamaria during the week-long training course. Kelly gave background information on the XYZ company, its core business and the vision for the future. Larry provided insight into the operating systems, how the plug-ins were set up, developing the construction scene, the GPS data input, and all other basic input tasks. He provided comprehensive explanations of how these all worked together and ended up in the XYZ Viewer. Using the Aziehavenweg data as input, we were able to visualize the Temperature Contour Plots and all asphalt paving and compaction work in the XYZ software. Software programmers Augusto and Carlos provided deeper insights into the workings of the plug-ins that in a sense, makes the Virtual Reality Software tick.

The week in Alpharetta did provide a deeper insight in to the benefits and inner workings of the XYZ Solution. However in a week you can only learn and sort out a limited number of the issues on ASPARi’s wish list. Since then XYZ provided a trial license to ASPARi and work closely together to co-develop and progress to towards a fully functional solution fit for ASPARi’s purposes.

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