A digital twins project in the UK transport sector has been awarded state innovation funds.
London-headquartered Hadean, an metaverse infrastructure startup, is overseeing the initiative alongside Connected Places Catapult, a leading urban connectivity accelerator in the UK.
The funding is being provided by the UK's main grant-making body, UK Research & Innovation.
Hadean's 3D digital twins will serve 3D road modelling and real time highway data to road management boards, specifically creating enriched mathematical diagrams capable of emulating whole corridors of automotive traffic and correlating it with the right infrastructure upgrades.
Such granularity in data could also help to deliver one of the most radical upgrades on UK highways in decades, as engineers are exploring installation of overhead power cables on certain routes.
Similar to cables already operating above trolleybus or tram lines, the new infrastructure - known as "e-highways" - would allow electric heavy trucks to run the whole route without use of standalone charging points.
"Although e-Highways are being tested in California, Germany and the UK, domain-specific expertise of how, where and under what conditions these can be deployed is currently limited," explained Hadean vice president of innovation Chris Arthurs.
Another intriguing point is that a metaverse company has been entrusted with a key component of the UK's e-highway strategy.
When we speak about the metaverse we're really referring to any tech-enabled bridge linking physical objects and digital realms. And, despite numerous news headlines on virtual reality and socialising, that includes digital twins - a well-established form of digital transformation that streams real environments to a digital or data-based facsimile, and which continues to evolve over time, in this case emerging as a full-on 3D virtual replica.
Arthurs said: "We also believe that such capabilities will have important synergies with creating a category of metaverse worlds which may require the simulating and understanding of real-world and simulated scenario-based traffic patterns and behaviours, as well as exploring hypotheticals and “what-if?” questions around infrastructure design.”
It shows Metaverse covers a number of focal points, whether that's AR goggles, robots, tokens ownership or smart data.
Alexander Weedon, executive director of Connected Places Catapult SME Development and Academic Engagement, added: "We are excited to be collaborating with Hadean to bring Connected Places Catapult’s knowledge base to bear to support their digital twin challenge.
"The Catapult’s unique expertise, boosted by the transfer of the Centre for Digital Twin-Hub (previously hosted by University of Cambridge) to the Catapult in April 2021, is uniquely positioned to support Hadean in creating create a new offering in the transportation sector, a wholly owned e-Highways simulation digital twin."