Simulation – Virtual environments are being used everywhere

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        ILM went on to create special effects for dozens of films including some of the earliest computer-generated 3D characters in “The Abyss” “Terminator 2” and “Jurassic Park” pioneering a new industry in the process. The photorealistic imagery that appears on the screen is generated from a 3D virtual world (Unreal Engine was used during the development process). Having 3D models of its entire product range to hand also meant that it took IKEA just seven weeks to build IKEA Place an augmented reality ( AR ) app that lets customers drop virtual furniture into spaces in their homes and see whether they fit and how they look on the screen of a smartphone. The techniques and engines used to create realistic game worlds can do more than just produce images however. Such models can also be used to look into the future by using the data collected about the real-world operation of the airport as the basis of simulations.

        Virtual environments are also increasingly used for simulation-based training. Computer simulations and racing games have long been used to train autonomous cars’ vision systems by testing them with highly realistic computer-generated streetscapes. Oxbotica an autonomous-vehicle startup created by engineers from Oxford University built a virtual environment in Unity in which to test its algorithms. “Our gaming simulation helps us to train the software to understand what it can do in difficult scenarios that are almost impossible to create in real life ” says Todd Gibbs the company’s head of simulation development. Danny Lange Unity’s vice-president of AI and machine learning said at the time that the game engine would become “a primary research platform for creating complex virtual environments that will enable the development of algorithms capable of learning to solve complex tasks”. These virtual worlds can set up the cognitive challenges that AI researchers need to improve their algorithms for everything from computer vision and natural-language processing


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