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Visualization and Roadway Design


This program is about how simulation and visualization technologies can be applied to roadway design. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), there are over 4 million miles of roads in the U.S. About 2.7 million miles are paved and 1.3 million miles are unpaved. Roadway design engineers are constantly working on building new roads and improving/fixing existing roads. As communities grow, the roadways in and around the community also change to support the changing needs of drivers. The Visualization and Road Design program at NADS conducts research on how to complement roadway design with visualization and driving simulation technologies.

Visualization and simulation are an important tool to visualize and virtually experience roadway designs before the concrete is poured. Roadway engineers can use this technology to improve and validate their designs. Federal and state agencies can use these tools to provide outreach to communities that are being impacted. Simulation and visualization allow you to virtually drive your car on a proposed new highway interchange that aims to improves access to your business or neighborhood. Similarly, this technology can help you experience how well the speed treatments control the speed of traffic entering your town or approaching your schools.

Some of the exciting projects include:

  • Making driving simulators more useful for highway design engineers
  • Building a virtual replica of an actual town (Iowa City)
  • Using simulators as an outreach tool for communicating proposed roadway designs to small communities

Virtual roadways on the NADS simulators are built according to established civil engineering standards. These include the ASSHTO Green Book, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and the Texas Roadway Design Manual.


Visualization and Roadway Design program manager:
Shawn Allen (staff profile)
Recent projects:
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