The Connected Places Catapult (CPC) has announced a two-year project to develop a digital twin for traffic simulation.
The innovation accelerator body for transport and connecting communities is to work with metaverse specialist Hadean with funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership.
The project will include a focus on the prospects for e-highways – roads on which some vehicles are powered by overhead cables.
The partners are aiming to develop a traffic simulation model that can scale to a large number of entities – including cars, HGVs, electric vehicles, electric charging points and overhead cables – replicate motorways and support efforts to find the optimal locations for e-highways.
The digital twin will use Hadean’s cloud computing platform to present a 3D environment to assess how e-highways would affect the flow of traffic and what infrastructure would be needed to support them.
CPC will provide technical support and guidance to the company, notably on transport modelling and digital twin applications, via a specialist knowledge transfer associate. It will also provide support in the acquisition and use of relevant data.
Alisdair Ritchie, head of the SME development team at CPC, said: “Real world testing is extraordinarily expensive, and the opportunity to work with Hadean to develop digital twins which can model e-highways in a virtual world at a fraction of the cost is both valuable and a real learning opportunity for both organisations.”
Hadean’s vice president of innovation Chris Arthurs said the digital twin will help government agencies and consultancies plan future highways.
He added: “We also believe that such capabilities will have important synergies with creating a category of metaverse worlds which may require the simulating and understanding of real world and simulated scenario based traffic patterns and behaviours, as well as exploring hypotheticals and ‘What if?’ questions around infrastructure design.”
e-Highways have been proposed as a possible means of reducing carbon emissions by heavy goods vehicles. In 2021 BusinessLive reported that a stretch of the M180 in Lincolnshire could become the first in the UK to use the technology, but more sceptical voices – as in an article in The Conversation – have cast doubt on the prospects of their adoption.