- I have always wanted to work with a project like VirtualCity@Chalmers, Anders Logg, Professor of computational mathematics at Chalmers and Director of Building Futures Area of Advance, explains.
- My research area focuses on mathematical modelling and simulation, and a project like this is a great opportunity for testing, developing and implementing advanced methods for multiphysics simulation.
VirtualCity@Chalmers is a project that aims to develop a 3D virtual city simulation platform, in which city planners, architects, builders, researchers and other interested parties will be able to simulate and visualize different conditions of urban areas, conditions like wind patterns, air and sound pollution, placement of trees and bushes, bridge constructions, etc. The simulation tool is intended to give the opportunity to test different approaches and to make informed decisions in urban planning before the plans are finalized and construction started. The possibility of simulating in advance will not only be of help in the planning process but also improve cost and time efficiency, and aid in designing the best quality living conditions in the planned areas.
Cities are some of the most complex human creations, which is mirrored into the production of virtual twins. The need for different and highly specialized skills in the production is apparent, and the production team is rapidly growing in both numbers and competence variation.
Vasilis Naserentin, Research engineer at the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Division of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, and currently finishing his PhD in Computational Fluid Dynamics, was one of the first members to join the team.
- Within the project VirtualCity@Chalmers I play the awkward role of Lead developer and I manage the software architecture. I am part of the production, but I’m also the hands-on-guy, who makes sure that all decisions we make find their right places within the project. I am the guy who is trying to fit all the pieces into their right places within this giant jig saw-puzzle.
The team consists of a multitude of digital competences, of which Unreal Engine production and implementation is a major component. Gavin Milroy, independent Unreal Engine technical artist, instructor and training content creator, residing in the United Kingdom, describes his role in the project:
- My role is to support the team on implementing anything inside Unreal Engine 4 (UE4), be it experimentations, gameplay, user interface or other development areas. I always want to work with teams that are pushing the boundaries of development within UE4, and VirtualCity@Chalmers is at the cutting edge of what is possible with a powerful real-time engine. How could I not be interested in such a project? Count me in!
The project also involves other competences. Fabio Latino, Design lead of the project, has his degree in architecture:
- My background is in architecture, with a special interest in sustainable urban development. I find my skills both very useful and highly gratified in this project. My role in the project is very varied, one day I’m building 3D assets and the next I am discussing user experiences of new features, producing motion graphics or building and developing the identity of the project. I saw VirtualCity@Chalmers as an exciting opportunity, for its multidisciplinary identity and great potential in urban planning and research and, so far, the project has lived up to every expectation.
VirtualCity@Chalmers is a collaboration between Chalmers, Fraunhofer Chalmers Centre and the City of Gothenburg, and has already, after less than a year of production, received an increasing amount of attention, from both industry and academia, and lately also from national media when Anders Logg appeared in an interview at the TV4 National Evening News broadcast. Anders Logg on the TV4 evening News »
The project has experienced a rapid growth and progress, but where do the project team members think VirtualCity@Chalmers will be in five years from now?
- At this point in time we have laid the foundation of the core systems and we are constantly improving day by day, Orfeas Eleftheriou, Game engine developer, explains.
– Over the course of five years I’m confident that our project will scale up in a way that is going to affect the lives of thousands of people.
- I believe VirtualCity@Chalmers has an enormous potential to grow and to move in several different directions, says Level designer and software developer Luis Almeida, in place in Portugal. He continues:
- My hope is that we can push things far enough to make it a solid platform with a lot of interconnected systems, basically a fully functional virtual ecosystem for everyone to use and to explore its features.
Developing a simulation tool like VirtualCity@Chalmers requires extended resources of high-level skills, time and financial assets, especially with the designated purpose of creating a tool to aid in evolving real cities into very well functioning and liveable areas. Project founder Anders Logg is confident:
- In five years, I want us to be recognized as a major open platform for city modelling, simulation, visualization and planning, in both academia and industry. And I think we have a unique opportunity, in the necessary assets of our team members and collaborators as well as the drive, to make it happen.
Read more about VirtualCity@Chalmers on the project website: virtualcity.chalmers.se »