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Montreal embraces virtual reality planning software

Using new interactive 3D software the port of Montreal can plan its its development using virtual reality tools.

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A model of Montreal's Bickerdike pier in PreVu3D
A model of Montreal's Bickerdike pier in PreVu3D

The Port of Montreal is benefitting from software developed by a startup called PreVu3D for planning the spatial redevelopment of large industrial facilities.


PreVu3D was founded by engineer and CEO Nicolas Morency, who came up with the idea after working on a plant redevelopment project in the United States and finding that existing 3D planning tools were not adequate for client presentations.


After getting PreVu3D off the ground in a Montreal incubator called Centech, Morency took on a project with the Port of Montreal to take high quality images of its entire 965 hectare operation using a drone. The company then used “photogrammetry technology” to build a 3D model that is integrated into a computer programme where users can move around and explore the port estate from different viewpoints.

PreVu3D CEO and founder Nicolas Morency
PreVu3D CEO and founder Nicolas Morency

“This is how the software lets us plan spatial redevelopment as if we were playing Minecraft: move a machine here, push back the walls or lay pipes there, all in a space reconstructed down to the closest millimetre,” the port said.


To develop the software PreVu 3D teamed up with ARA Robotique, also from Centech and specialised in drones.


The first verion of a 3D map of the port was unveiled in January this year. Since then PreVu3D has been used to create a training tool for the port’s Safety and Fire Prevention Department that puts an employee in an emergency scenario, such as a fire, a gas leak or an accident. The port also plans to use it to create an augmented reality tour for the public at its next exhibition at the Port Centre for community outreach.


Another potential use of the technology is to provide engineers and suppliers with a way to ‘see’ the port and details of particular areas for project design and tendering processes without having to make a site visit.


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