#349: 3D Modeling of Cities for Virtual Environments

C. Davis, J. Collins, J. Fraser, H. Zhang, S. Yao, E. Lattanzio, B. Balakrishnan, Y. Duan, P. Calyam, and K. Palaniappan

2021 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data), pgs. 5587--5596, 2021

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Modeling and simulation of large urban regions is beneficial for a range of applications including intelligent transportation, smart cities, infrastructure planning, and training artificial intelligence for autonomous navigation systems including ground vehicles and aerial drones. Immersive environments including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR or XR) can be used to explore city scale regions for planning, design, training and operations. Virtual environments are in the midst of rapid change as innovations in display technologies, graphics processors and game engine software present new opportunities for incorporating modeling and simulation into engineering workflows. Game engine software like Unity with photorealistic rendering and realistic physics have plug-in support for a variety of virtual environments and typically model the scene as meshes. In this paper, we develop an end-to-end workflow for creating urban scale real world accurate synthetic environments that can be visualized in virtual environments including the Microsoft HoloLens head mounted display or the CAVE VR for multi-user interaction. Four meshing algorithms are evaluated for representation accuracy and city-scale meshes imported into Unity for assessing the quality of the immersive experience.