Transportation Summit takeaways

The Transportation Summit promised big names and did it deliver! Secretary Anthony Foxx took the stage and spoke to many hot topics in transportation. One item he mentioned is that we can’t rely on advancing technology, it’s not inherently good or bad. It’s how we use it. He relayed a story about how his wife did all her Christmas Shopping last year online saving her many trips back and forth to the store. He pointed out that net net it likely didn’t make a difference like she thought as the delivery trucks would have to make multiple trips to drop off the packages. In this case, technology didn’t help or hinder. His point was that we need to be mindful of technology and use it wisely.

Secretary Foxx using Virtual Reality
Secretary Foxx using Virtual Reality

Foxx also mentioned how far every dollar allocated to transportation has to go. Many of the speakers mentioned the funding gap that we’ll be facing over the next couple years. There is a $1.2 trillion gap currently and that doesn’t account for the growing demands of urbanization. Foxx said, “Every marginal dollar in transportation has to punch above its weight.” In other words, we have smaller budgets than we would traditionally need to match the infrastructure needs. That means we need to work smarter to do more with the budgets we do have.

These were only two of the many points that Foxx brought up. We’ll be hosting a video of Secretary Foxx’s talk here shortly, so keep your eyes on this space.

Following Foxx, we had quite the line up of speakers representing Roads & Highways and Rail & Aviation. From Bernard Cathelain of the Grand Paris Express project in Paris, the largest infrastructure project in Europe, if not the world, to Gjermund Dahl of Norconsult who spoke about E18 and the “Level of Delivery” used for the project and Norconsult’s goal to be providing paperless delivery by 2020.

Technology Showcase

Kevin Gilson from WSP kicked off the Technology showcase session with a showcase of immersive experiences through AR, VR and mixed reality. He shared that these technologies are accessible at various degrees of complexity and capabilities with a entry level version through panoramic stereo with 4 degrees of freedom (look around) renders all the way to advanced VR using HTC Vive that provides 6 degrees of freedom (move, look up/down).

That was followed by Brad Adams from Leica Geosystems that discussed the Pegasus series of mobile mapping solutions, Pegasus one which is a backpack version and Pegasus two, a vehicle mounted version that is capable of capturing 100 miles of survey grade data in a day. Ramesh Sridharan from Autodesk closed that segment with a demonstration of how Autodesk InfraWorks can be used to automatically and semi-automatically extract usable design information from the LIDAR scanned point cloud data.

Attendee using HololensSticking to the theme of mixed reality, H. Scott Aldridge from CDM Smith shared some insights on the use of Microsoft Hololens and the work that they have done to put the platform to use to share, collaborate and co-design key infrastructure and transportation projects. Later in the exhibit area, he also mentioned that the cost of the hardware and platform was paid for many times over with the 1st few projects that CDM Smith used this interesting technology platform on.

Joe Brenner from WSP, as a bridge engineer, talked about how the 3D workflows enabled through Revit, Inventor and Autodesk InfraWorks has allowed him to become a “better bridge engineer”. The talk shared how dynamic modeling is key to the processes that bridge engineers like him have been eagerly awaiting to re-imagine how bridges are designed in the future.

Daniel Moodie from GHD presents

GHD’s Daniel Moodie then spoke to the traditional and new ways for delivering rail projects moving away from 2D based workflows into automated, 3D workflows using Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Navisworks and Autodesk Dynamo. His presentation also included some work that he did with Fusion 360 to build a model of the train that was laid directly onto the railway track and tunnel design that he built. Perhaps most interesting was the fact that in his spare time he 3D printed the model just for the sake of it, and now that 3D printed 1:25 scale model that took 45 hours to print, is being used as a discussion aid with the supply chain as well.