Continuum Industries is a start-up developing a complete digital twin blueprint for transportation systems based in Edinburgh. The company is currently working on its Minimum Viable Product that focuses on automation of alignment planning for Hyperloop and mainline rail.

The Challenge

Continuum Industries were developing a complete digital twin blueprint for transportation systems, looking to develop a Minimum Viable Product focused on automation of route alignment planning for linear infrastructure such as Hyperloop X^2^[1] and mainline rail.

Their existing approach only enabled them to consider a handful of potential options within a limited travel corridor. Even with this data, it was taking a lot of effort to analyse individual parts of alignments, and account for different conflicting objectives like changes in elevation, curvature, avoidance of protected and urban areas.

Continuum Industries needed a geospatial database that integrated with their simulation algorithms to explore design options in a digital twin landscape

What we delivered

EDINA developed a geospatial database that formed part of an automated alignment planning tool. The geospatial database aggregated data from multiple sources and types, e.g. terrain elevation, land use and natural environment.

It also integrated data sources from multiple providers including OpenStreetMap and national government portals.

Using generative design techniques, we were able to propose a range of solutions for routes of even 1000 km in length – work that currently takes many months to complete for engineering teams.

The project was a key step to enable Continuum Industries to release its Minimum Viable Product. In the long-term, the company aims to build complete, enterprise-grade tools for digitalisation and optimisation of entire transport and linear infrastructure systems. The end-outcomes are:

  • More efficient and cost effective transport systems thanks to whole system modelling;
  • Reduced commercial and technical risks for major infrastructure projects;
  • Cheaper development and shorter time-frames for transport systems projects design and implementation.

The custom database developed during this project allows the generative alignment design algorithm to efficiently handle large amounts of diverse geospatial data, which cannot be achieved by using off-the-shelf solutions.

Skills we brought to the project

This project required extensive knowledge of available geospatial data both in the UK and worldwide. It also required experience and expertise in a variety of open source and commercial geospatial database platforms and the knowledge to integrate these systems with other applications.

Designing the spatial database, and tools for populating it with relevant authoritative data and integrating it with Continuum’s software required a degree of innovative research and knowledge. EDINA, as part of the University of Edinburgh, has extensive experience and knowledge in these fields, drawing on its experience of running national geospatial services for over twenty years.

X^2^[1] Hyperloops are a high-speed transportation system that can carry passengers or cargo in autonomous, bus-sized vehicles known as pods. It works by moving the pods within a network of low-pressure tubes to minimise aerodynamic drag, allowing the pods to travel at speeds of around 1000kph