Interview : Terra Dynamica
What is Terra Dynamica?
Terra Dynamica is the follow-up to a project by the Thalès group called “Terra Numerica”. The aim of this project was to create a model of a city, and it seemed natural to choose Paris. Terra Dynamica stimulates the city by including virtual players, vehicles and signalling. Its aim is to create a life simulator. We are taking care of the “Navigation” part, where pedestrians have to find the right way to go. How do they do it? The most logical response is to take account of fixed obstacles, roads and moving obstacles, other pedestrians.
How is this project innovative?
There are already a number of urban traffic simulators, but a simulator which combines vehicles and pedestrians is something completely new. The number of players, some 100,000, also makes the project totally innovative.
What will this simulator be used for?
Terra Dynamica could lead to a number of applications, for the simulation of traffic or urban risks, for studies on urban planning, the impact of cities on life, etc. It is a very long-term project, which itself will develop over time. Some of the virtual actors are also being used to study the influence of emotions and motivations on the route taken by these pedestrians.
How did you use the Fond Unique Interministériel?
The Fond Unique Interministériel gave the project legitimacy and consequently allowed us to bring together partners from different environments who have complementary skills. As an SME, it was difficult to meet the needs of large companies but thanks to the FUI this difference no longer exists.
How was the project set up?
The agreement was signed in September 2009. The project was highly theoretical until this January. We produced a first version of the specifications and we reached agreement on the content of the virtual city. Also in January, we recruited two engineers who have been able to start work on the project.
Have the objectives changed since then?
At the start, we intended to have as many as 100,000 virtual players in the city, but we reviewed this objective slightly downwards. As for cars, we planned to have one thousand and we achieved this objective. The project is very long-term and will still be viable in a few years time; it can therefore change very easily. At the moment we are concentrating on the essentials, i.e. the targeted applications.
What is still to be done?
We still have a year ahead of us. We will continue to add virtual players and to develop them. When we reach the last six months of the project, a series of validity tests will be carried out to prove that the project does in fact reflect reality.
Around ten PhD students are working on this project, including one from Cameroon and one from Algeria.
How have you presented your project to the scientific community?
The Terra Dynamica project was presented at the Futur en Seine (Future on the Seine) festival in 2011 in the form of a video with sound. This year a real-time demonstration will be carried out at the 104 Theatre. We hope to finish the project next year and be able to present it at the next festival with its many resulting applications. We are also planning a final demonstration on the virtual Place de la République.
Navigation Team: Clement Leclerq
Agreement signed in September 2009
Thalès, Kylotonn, CNAM, Laboratoire d’Informatique de Paris 6 (Paris Computer Science Laboratory - LIP6), Cap Digital
Interview: Urban simulation technologies.