Bentley Systems is developing applications using Nvidia’s Omniverse platform for photorealistic, real-time visualisation and simulation of digital twins of massive-scale industrial and civil infrastructure projects.
Visualisation and simulation are increasingly important in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector, but the costs and manpower needed to develop really sophisticated and powerful capabilities demand that AEC incumbents work with more generic hardware and software experts. This week, Bentley Systems has announced (12 April 2021) that it is developing applications using Nvidia‘s Omniverse platform for photorealistic, real-time visualisation and simulation of digital twins of massive-scale industrial and civil infrastructure projects.
Bentley Systems says it has extended its iTwin platform to integrate with Nvidia’s Omniverse platform. Bentley iTwin is an open-source, scalable cloud platform that enables the creation, visualisation and analysis of digital twins of infrastructure assets. The Omniverse platform (see this May 2020 AEC Magazine feature for detailed background) allows teams to stream data from multiple applications and to interact in real-time on the combined high-fidelity result.
So, instead of exchanging and collaborating upon massive files, architects, engineers and other designers can work simultaneously in their chosen applications, with any changes instantly appear in co-collaborators’ applications. Pixar’s USD (Universal Scene Description – an open framework for exchanging 3D computer graphics data) makes this possible.
Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley said:
“Visualization and simulation underpin many of the use cases for infrastructure digital twins. The collaboration of Bentley iTwin and NVIDIA Omniverse is delivering real-time, immersive 3D/4D experiences that will enable true-to-reality, physics-based simulation of even the largest and most complex infrastructure assets. GPU-computing is transforming the world of engineering and construction and promises to unleash the potential of AI for simulation and advanced analytics in infrastructure digital twins.”
Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA
“Modern infrastructure are magnificent feats of engineering. NVIDIA and Bentley share a vision of physically based digital twins – so accurate and realistically simulated that they will revolutionize everything from infrastructure design to operations. NVIDIA Omniverse was built precisely to realize this vision – to create shared virtual worlds that are simulated with physical and photo realism. We are delighted Bentley is developing applications for infrastructure digital twins on NVIDIA Omniverse.”
… but collaboration costs
Application plug-ins are needed to connect to the Omniverse server platform. In the AEC software world, Omniverse Connectors are currently available for Autodesk Revit, Rhino, SketchUp, Archicad, blender, 3ds max, CityEngine, and Unreal Engine (see also: 8 March 2021 post, 3D Repo develops Unreal Engine-based 3D platform). Omniverse can also support point clouds – useful insofar as Bentley has invested heavily in ContextCapture and related laser and photogrammetry data capture and visualisation tools.
However, collaboration comes at a huge cost that probably puts it out of the reach of all but the largest global firms. For, say, 25-strong workgroups, Nvidia Omniverse Enterprise prices start at US$1,800 per user per annum, plus $25,000 for the platform’s core, the Omniverse Nucleus Server. Larger implementations could run to $250,000 if they want Nucleus Server to service the needs of 500 people or more.
However, the Omniverse platform and some basic functionality is apparently available at no cost for individuals to try out. And Nvidia RTX Virtual Workstation (vWS) software, also part of the platform, lets users run graphics-intensive 3D applications on low-powered devices, including standard office laptops that don’t have powerful graphics processing units (GPUs).
In other news…
Update (15 April 2020) – Bentley Systems has announced it has acquired Montreal, Canada-based INRO Software, a developer of multimodal transportation planning, traffic simulation, and mobility visualisation software.