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 Virtual submersion
The CAVE room lets planners and visitors go to any point on the rails— with 3-D projections both in front and below.
Mobility and Aerospace
Text THOMAS RIETIG / Photos CHRISTOF MATTES
Trains leave every minute, ships line up on the river, freeways are often jammed. Any- one eager to witness the dawn of a new age of mobility is advised to visit Germany’s
Upper Rhine Valley. Europe’s most important trans- port corridor has reached the limits of its capacity. But at least for rail transport, a window is opening onto the future. Billions of euros are being invested into expanding the 182-kilometer rail connection between Karlsruhe and Basel, with two lines for faster trains and new signaling systems. Launched in 1987, work is expected to finish in 2042. Deut- sche Bahn’s infrastructure company, DB Netz AG, is planning the project at a large digital laboratory where cutting-edge technology meets the latest advances in project management.
That is apparent as soon as you step out of the elevator in the building in Karlsruhe. Modern offices with flexible work stations, meeting and presenta- tion areas, and special rooms with names like “Think Tank” and “CAVE” occupy 600 square meters of space. The CAVE—which stands for computer-aided virtual environment—is in fact a cavernous space for three-dimensional projections that opened in early 2019, two years after the initial idea. “It is based on BIM, or building information modeling, which means working with digital twins of the projects,” says Sascha Björn Klar, who heads the BIM department. Deutsche Bahn wants to use BIM for all of its new construction projects as of 2020.
The first step in digitalizing the large-scale con- struction project for the Karlsruhe-Basel line was to gather data. To supplement existing documentation, helicopters and drones made 3-D measurements of
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