Roadway Infrastructure in Various 3D Visualization Modes

Project status

In progress

Start date: 07/01/15
End date: 12/31/16


Principal investigator:

About the research

Utilizing enhanced visualization in transportation planning and design gained popularity in the last decade. The proof-of-concept work aimed at demonstrating the concept of utilizing a highly immersive, virtual reality simulation engine for creating dynamic, interactive, full-scale, three-dimensional (3D) models of highway infrastructure.

For that project, the highway infrastructure element chosen was a two-way, stop-controlled intersection (TWSCI).

VirtuTrace, a virtual reality simulation engine developed by the principal investigator, was used to construct the dynamic 3D model of the TWSCI. The model was implemented in C6, which is Iowa State University’s Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE).

This continuation of the project is threefold:

(1)  Utilize crash data to Identify three types of intersections with high crash rates

(2)  Investigate as follows:

a.    Develop 3D models for the intersections identified.

b.    Use VirtuTrace, the virtual reality simulation engine developed by the principal investigator (PI), to present full-scale, interactive simulations for the intersections, where designers can change various characteristics of the intersections and road conditions in real time. The simulation will include interactive traffic elements, too, such as various types of vehicles, traveling paths, and speeds).

c.    Identify a group of experts and use a focus-group approach to examine the intersections for safety deficiencies. The group will examine intersections in two visualization modes (computer monitor vs. C6 (ISU’s CAVE)) and will be asked to identify safety deficiencies and use the real-time component of the simulator to correct the deficiencies (e.g., remove a house located upstream of a two-way stop-controlled intersection or lengthen a merge lane). The simulator will allow examining the scene from a bird’s-eye view, providing a high-level perspective on the intersection and the flow of traffic.

d.    Data collected during the previous phase will be compared between the two modes of visualizations. The group of experts will be gathered then as a single group. They will be provided with a summary of the data and will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the different visualization modes and provide recommendations for future efforts and directions.

(3)  The PI will work with the instructor of the Highway Design course in the Iowa State University Department of Construction Engineering on developing educational modules that utilize the developments.



  • Iowa State University
  • Midwest Transportation Center