Virtual Reality for Sites
July 15th, 2016
Uncertainty is expensive. A good design consultant’s goal is to minimize risk exposure for their clients. By utilizing modern workflows and techniques, CivilE, LLC (an Austin based civil engineering firm) has discovered new ways to eliminate some of that uncertainty by allowing our clients to visualize our construction improvements in virtual reality during the design phase.
CivilE’s traditional deliverables are construction plan documents. The trusted roll of plans is still the staple product for securing development permits and guiding contractors through construction. However, when creating construction plans, CivilE creates detailed 3D grading models which can easily be ingested into virtual reality engines. Appropriate coverages (grass, concrete, asphalt, etc..) are applied to this surface. Buildings from the architect are added to create an interactive and immersive world in which the owner can view sight lines and vistas of the proposed project.
Utilizing an Oculus Rift, a virtual reality model can place you anywhere on the site and provide a 360 degree view of the proposed design. The VR engine provides a stereographic rendering that produces an accurate illusion of depth. CivilE recently created an immersive VR model for a 7 acre multifamily project with 90 proposed units. Having already created much of the needed data for the preparation of detailed construction plans, building the VR model took only 16 hours of additional effort.
“The look on our clients’ faces is priceless. They are like eight year olds on Christmas morning.” said Andy Carter, co-founder of CivilE, LLC. “ After seeing their project for the first time they get really excited.” While currently a novelty, CivilE sees utilizing VR as a design technique to evaluate things such as stopping sight distances and view shed.
“We are only beginning to understand where this new tool will take us.” said Larry Hanrahan, co-founder of CivilE, LCC. “We are listening to our clients to understand how this ability will aid in their designs and marketability.”
About the Firm
CivilE was founded by Larry Hanrahan, PE and Andy Carter, PE in September of 2013. Mr. Hanrahan received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Science in Engineering, and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. He has more than 28 years of experience pertaining to site development and subdivision civil engineering in central Texas. Mr. Carter received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He brings 16 years of site design experience and was awarded "Young Engineer of the Year" in 2007.