Abstract speed motion in city street; Abstract speed motion in city street;

Virtual and Augmented Reality changing the way we design and build infrastructure

Arup has always pioneered the use of the most advanced technologies. For us technology is a game-changer and not just making what we have better.

When our founder Ove Arup pioneered Total Design, his vision was to bring together different disciplines to ensure the best possible integrated solution. We were one of the first to use large scale computing to develop the structure of the iconic Sydney Opera House ‘shells’ in the 1960s.

Today, our cutting edge approach to Digital Engineering provides unprecedented opportunities for collaboration and engagement to our staff and clients, delivering design efficiencies and cost savings across our projects.

Our award-winning use of 12D pushed the software to its limits to produce BIM and asset management models to support design delivery, construction planning and future maintenance of the Pacific Highway Woolgoolga to Ballina Upgrade (W2B) Portion C project.

We can communicate complex project solutions via immersion within our Virtual and Augmented Reality solutions, placing the client and stakeholders in the middle of the design. This provides a greater understanding of engineering design, construction processes and the ability to realise projects faster, cheaper, and with greater accuracy than ever before.

We continue to adopt and adapt new technologies. Utilising readily available technology coupled with machine learning analyses we can capture and process real world information and visual geometry into a digital engineering environment.

For example, LIDAR produces typically sparse site information the form of a grid of data points missing hard features like sharp changes in terrain, walls or structures. That information then needs to be processed and rendered so that it can be used for design purposes. 

However, reality capture has the potential to accelerate programs and provide far richer data sets from readily available photography, creating 3D mesh models, complete with topographical and infrastructure features, which can help assist with concept designs, construction reviews and ongoing asset management.


The technology already exists to provide flexible and rapid data capture options through to design and construction tools and to support the maintenance of existing assets. We expect this will be commonplace within the industry in the very near future. ”

Andrew Lewis Andrew Lewis Australasia Digital Engineering and BIM Leader

In theory you only need one person (or one drone) on site to take a series of pictures that could be converted into a detailed 3D model that all stakeholders can then refer to, providing a greater understanding of physical conditions on site, constraints and opportunities for consideration during design and construction. We can interrogate and manipulate these models, as well as print them to create realistic physical representations.

Here I will stress; for detailed design purposes we still rely on surveys for the most accurate mapping.

However, we can move more swiftly towards detailed design by using 3D models to collaborate on better and more complete design options. Significantly, these models can be shared online to facilitate cross-collaboration across contractors and for community consultation purposes, helping to remove the barriers imposed by design software limitations.

This is the future of infrastructure design and we are delighted to be showing this technology off at the annual Roads Australia John Shaw Award Dinner in Sydney on Wednesday 31 May 2017. We are proud to be once again sponsoring this gala event and to be a Patron of Roads Australia.