Disaster scene reconstruction: Modeling and simulating urban building collapse rubble within a game engine

A. Ferworn, S. Herman, J. Tran, A. Ufkes, R. McDonald
Various natural and human-made events can occur in urban settings resulting in buildings collapsing and trapping victims. The task of a structural engineer is to survey the resulting rubble to assess its safety and arrange for structural stabilization, where necessary. Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) operations can then begin to locate and rescue people. Our previous work reported the use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) equipped with a RGB-Depth sensor to build 3D point cloud models of disaster scenes. In this paper we extend this work by converting the point clouds into 3D models and importing them into a state-of-the-art game engine. We present a method to use these models to allow first responders to interact with the simulated rubble environment in real-time, without risk to human life. Experiments are conducted measuring traversal time both in the real world environment and using the simulation. We argue that this work will improve the safety of workers and allow a better understanding of extremely dangerous environments without unnecessary exposure during disaster response planning.

Citation: A. Ferworn, S. Herman, J. Tran, A. Ufkes, R. McDonald , “Disaster scene reconstruction: Modeling and simulating urban building collapse rubble within a game engine,” in Summer Computer Simulation Conference, SCSC 2013 and Work in Progress, WIP 2013, Part of the 2013 Summer Simulation Multiconference, SummerSim 2013, Jul 7 – 10 2013, Toronto, On, Canada, 2013

Disaster scene reconstruction Modeling and simulating urban building collapse rubble within a game engine