Smart Digital Lab

The Smart Digital Lab uses emerging disruptive digital technologies and battle hardened existing technologies, to explore, solve and teach complex engineering principles and problems.

Using advanced usability techniques, we augment people’s abilities so that experts and students alike can experience, visualise, design and construct in a way that is completely impossible in the real world. We do this primarily using intelligent digital twin simulations and gamified virtual environments. Our goal is for technology and humans to work together in symbiosis, with the whole greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Our research

  • Computer Simulation and Modelling: This sub-area is focused on the development and implementation of computer modelling techniques such as discrete-event simulation, dynamic system and agent-based modelling, to model, simulate and optimise a number of problems in construction such as resource allocation and utilisation, logistics, health and safety, social dynamics in construction organisations, sustainable construction, production planning and control, decision–making analysis, among others. In addition, quake and tsunami evacuation (micro and macro scale) problems are modelled primarily combining multi-agent systems and machine learning.
  • Building Information Modelling: The purpose of this sub-area is to develop and apply Building Information Modelling (BIM)-based tools, processes, and technologies to provide solutions to some of the construction problems related to supply chain integration and collaboration, planning and control, project delivery (design, planning, construction, delivery, and maintenance), behavioural-based building design, among others.
  • Serious Game/Mixed Reality: This sub-area aims to apply mixed reality (e.g. VR, AR), serious games and artificial intelligence technologies to deal with a variety of engineering problems in the built environment such as project engineering and management problems, quake and tsunami evacuation (micro and macro scale), and health and safety issues.
  • Sustainable Construction: The aim of this sub-area is to apply computer modelling techniques to solve environmental and production problems concurrently in construction capital projects.
  • Occupational Health and Safety: In this subarea, different computing approaches such as serious games, virtual reality, system dynamics, artificial intelligence, others, are applied to investigate different occupational health and safety problems in construction projects.
  • Production Management and Lean Construction: This sub-area applies computer modelling techniques, artificial intelligence, multi-objective optimisation, system identification, control theory, mixed reality and serious games to production planning and control problems, lean production-driven issues in construction, decision-making, and social dynamics in construction organisations.
  • Digital Twinning and Lean Construction 4.0: This sub-area pays attention to the development of digital technologies and production management theory merging lean construction and industry 4.0/ Digital twin research aims to link IoT, BIM, mixed reality, machine learning, computer simulation, lean-based planning and control, and culturally-driven human computer interaction and UC-design, in order to deliver more effectively capital projects. Lean Construction 4.0 pays attention to the blend of production management theory and smart/digital technologies associated with industry 4.0.
  • Cycle traffic safety: This sub-area aims to tackle issues that user face utilising different modes of transport as cycling. Cycling in Auckland can be a hair-raising activity with buses, bicycles, cars and pedestrians all sharing the same space. Whilst the best solution is to remove the more vulnerable to their own transport corridors, this is not always possible. In order to increase awareness, investigate current behaviours and to help train people in safe behaviours whilst riding a bicycle without subjecting them to real danger, we use the Mixed Reality bicycle, which is a combination of a virtual reality headset on a stationary bicycle simulating Auckland traffic.
  • Automated and remote damage assessment of assets: This sub-area is a cross-disciplinary effort combining structural engineering, construction management, computer science and mechanical engineering (robotics) disciplines. It is no surprise that many natural events such as earthquakes, extreme weather and floods cause damage to infrastructure such as bridges and buildings. However, being able to survey the structure in order to decide the extent of the damage can be dangerous, likewise being able to see the subtle telltale markers of interior damage is a skill that takes time and experience to develop. Using drones and robots with 3D scanning lidar, we first recreate the structure in 3D and then use Virtual Reality as both an assessment tool, and to train people in the process of assessment, and the problems to look out for.

Our people