Dr Paul Richmond

Dr Paul Richmond

Research Software Engineer

Advanced Crowd Visualisation of Dense Urban Areas

Project Description

Improving transportation and ensuring better utilisation of transport infrastructure is a key government objective. This is in part driven by a global market potentially valued at £900 billion annually by 2025 for systems which are able to unlock latent capabilities in the transport network. The University of Sheffield is well placed for research into this area and is an academic partner for the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), a TSB funded initiative to generate innovation and economic value within the UK transport sector. Ongoing research within the Visual Computing group at the University of Sheffield (Dr Richmond and Dr Maddock) focuses on very large scale simulation and visualisation (e.g. of pedestrian crowds and large scale vehicle networks) which directly addresses this societal and economic need.

An important but often overlooked aspect of simulation projects is the dissemination of the processes and techniques to non-specialist audiences. A powerful approach to communicating simulation is the application of 3D computer graphics. For example, visualising dense crowds of people within a busy urban setting provides a very powerful tool to engage stakeholders around aspects of infrastructure planning. When combined with novel research which permits real time simulation of the crowd behaviour, scenarios can be “steered” in real-time to explore the impact of particular interventions. The TSC have established a visualisation laboratory for this very purpose, however current state of the art techniques permit only a small number of realistic pedestrians to be used.

By combining novel large scale crowd simulations with the advanced 3D graphics of a modern games engine, it will be possible to create highly novel visual demonstrations which have a capability not demonstrated by any existing research or commercial tool. The main deliverable of this SURE scheme project will be a technology demonstration which explores the feasibility of this approach for a specific urban case study area (Milton Keynes). The objective of demonstrating this technological approach is highly novel and has not been attempted previously.

The results of this project are of particular significance to the TSC who have a specific requirement for this capability. Dissemination of the project’s main deliverable will be primarily through the installation of a permanent technology showcase demonstration, on display within the TSC visualisation lab. The results also have potential impact on ongoing industrial research projects and potential REF case studies where large scale simulation is utilised.

The work provides an interesting and challenging research problem for the summer student which will substantially build upon taught activities from the Department’s module on 3D Computer Graphics. In addition to extending knowledge within 3D computer graphics, the student will work in collaboration with current PhD students in the Visual Computing lab as well as with staff from the Research Software Engineering group. The student will learn how to deal with large scale data sets and write performance oriented code, all of which are valuable skills for employability within the software industry and the emerging transport systems sector or, alternatively, for continuing to postgraduate studies.

Dates and Further Details

Enquiries should be submit by May 14th 2017.

Project start date is 19th June 2017 for 6 weeks (with an optional additional 2 weeks in Milton Keynes).

The project pays a standard SURE scheme bursary of £180 per week.

Applications and Enquiries

Applications and enquiries should be made directly to Dr Paul Richmond via email. Applications should include a C.V. and a short (less than one page) covering letter describing suitability for the project.