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Highways England works on VR app for training



Agency harnesses virtual reality simulations for health and safety in project with 3D Repo and Balfour Beatty Vinci

Highways England is developing a new virtual reality (VR) app for its health and safety training.

The agency has been working with software developer 3D Repo, a spinout from University College London, and construction company Balfour Beatty Vinci on a fully immersive simulation aimed at improving training for highways construction and maintenance projects.

It is part of the Smart Motorway programme and creates scenarios, such as excavation of a roadside bank, designed to give the user different perspectives of potentially dangerous situations and an understanding of safe working zones.

The simulation can be accessed through a standard VR headset, and enables users to place themselves in different positions to assess where they are most safe. This can all be done within an office or training room, with the scenarios hosted online.

Baked in

Dr Josef Dobos, chief executive officer of 3D Repo, said: “Other VR simulations utilise standard game engines which can mean content is ‘baked in’ and any edits require a complete reprocess of the entire simulation.

“The 3D Repo solution provides a web enabled approach. Upon log-in, users can access all their projects remotely on the fly and without the need to create custom executables each time.

“We also utilise existing site-specific 3D models and building information modelling (BIM) data so that custom scenarios can be created and uploaded as and when needed.” 

Harry Parnell, head of digital project delivery at Balfour Beatty Major Projects, described the app as “ground breaking technology” and said: “Safety is our paramount importance and VR is now helping us deliver training in stimulating ways that ensure our people learn.”

Image from 3D Repo

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