New Brunswick, N.J. (Aug. 2, 2019) – Roadside workers on congested highways and roads often face danger from cars and trucks. So, a team of Rutgers University–New Brunswick engineers has developed fully interactive virtual environments that can train roadside crews in setting up work zones efficiently, inspecting bridges and performing other potentially risky activities.

“Safety would definitely be the first item on the list and also the cost efficiency,” said team leader Jie Gong, an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the School of Engineering and a researcher at Rutgers’ Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation.

Using HTC Vive controllers and headset, and a mobile backpack virtual reality (VR) computing system, users can take on a variety of simulated job tasks in their office.

For example, construction crews can practice putting down cones to set up their work zone, Gong said. The cars will interact with the cones accordingly, so users can get an idea of what setups work well in real life. Users can customize car speed and visibility and make vehicles drive recklessly if they want to.

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Rutgers University–New Brunswick is where Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, began more than 250 years ago. Ranked among the world’s top 60 universities, Rutgers’s flagship is a leading public research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It has an internationally acclaimed faculty, 12 degree-granting schools and the Big Ten Conference’s most diverse student body.