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Traffic model

The highways and transportation department of the London Borough of Richmond- upon-Thames has found that the use of road vehicle path simulation software AutoTURN to design traffic changes has also not only improved the quality of the design but also helped demonstrate the proposals to the public.

Transoft Solutions AutoTURN traces the turning and swept path of steerable vehicles inside CAD system drawings. It shows dynamic graphical animations of vehicle movements while providing full supporting analytical data.

Our local residents are naturally conscious of road vehicle related safety, environment and control issues, says Richmond-upon-Thames senior engineer, Hamish Leighton. They demand a very high quality of technical analysis and proof when reviewing new traffic schemes, planning applications, service revisions and so on. With AutoTURN, we can show what will happen and support it with facts.

The borough faces a wide variety of vehicle related situations. They range from serious accident blackspot resolution, through the impact of new planning applications, to the more adhoc routing of unusual loads.

Using the software, engineers are able to model the dynamics of the path taken by any road vehicle through any given route. Path prediction algorithms permit the computer simulation of accurate swept paths within the limitations of the real vehicles and at varying speeds. The graphical animation of vehicles can be either driven or automated along user-drawn paths. This allows the engineers to demonstrate for example that buses and emergency vehicles could still negotiate a junction narrowed to provide a pedestrian refuge.

Richmond-upon-Thames says that it is demonstrating an improved quality in design solutions and underpinning the complete system with direct savings. The traditional manual solution of overlay templates is time consuming, static and limited.

AutoTURN incorporates standard road vehicle libraries for UK, Australia, US and Canada. In addition, users can define the parameters (or modify the standard vehicles) to provide up to 20 special or non-standard vehicles. For example, when testing fire appliance access, the exact size of the ladder overhang can be input and traced through the turn.

The software functions within the standard CAD environments of AutoCAD and MicroStation. Richmond-upon-Thames has standardised on a Novell Netware platform running PCs with Windows 3.1 and 3.11. The CAD environment used is a mixture of AutoCAD R13 and AutoCAD Lite. Without doubt, the key feature of AutoTURN is the facility to test design and vehicle options interactively, viewing the animation and modifying the design on-line, says Leighton. The increase in productivity is significant. AutoTURN has not only improved the quality of design and response but also our ability to communicate that quality to the public.

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