The new tool will enable urban planners to virtually move, with computer assistance, through a three-dimensional view of the city. In other words, they will "take a walk" through the streets. No 3D glasses required, though they would be a good idea for the perfect 3D impression. The corresponding values from the simulation "float" at the associated locations on the 3D map - where noise data might be displayed using red, yellow or green boxes. The distances between data points currently equal five meters, but this can be adjusted according to need. The user determines how the map is displayed - selecting a standpoint, zooming in to street level or selecting a bird’s-eye perspective. This can provide quick help in locating problems such as regions with heavy noise pollution. The 3D map was developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO and the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP. "For the simulations, we used standard programs that are oriented around EU directives on noise-pollution control," says Roland Blach, department head at IAO. "The main challenge was to come up with a user-friendly way of displaying different simulation results."
Another interesting consideration that the researchers were able to visualize with this tool: if electric vehicles alone were driven in the city, instead of cars with internal combustion engines, how would this change the volume level? What if both gas-driven and electric motor vehicles were on the roads? "Admittedly, you can barely hear electric cars when starting up. At about 30 kilometers per hour, however, you start to hear rolling noises that can get really loud at speeds of 50 kilometers per hour. Initial simulations found that the conventional simulation models stipulated by public agencies tend to average too sharply: we have yet to see any significant difference in the noise level in electric vehicles or gas-driven cars, since apparently it‘s the rolling noise that predominates," says Blach. Researchers are presenting these simulations, using Stuttgart as an example, at the Hannover Messe from April 23-27 (Hall 26, Booth C08).