Image Courtesy Autodesk Inc.
Anywhere App for the iPad will let InfraWorks Pro users view scenarios in 3D for collaboration anywhere, anytime.
InfraWorks 360 Pro Hangout

First came 3D modeling to the paper-based world of civil design and construction. Now, project stakeholders are beginning to picture their highways in the cloud.

One new addition comes from the San Raphael, Calif.-based design software vendor Autodesk Inc., which released a cloud-enhanced version of its InfraWorks Civil 3-D Modeling package, named Autodesk InfraWorks 360 Pro, on Aug. 7. It brings to Autodesk's Civil 3-D modeling new abilities to leverage the cloud for rapid visualization and collaboration around projects. Dispersed, multi-discipline teams can publish large models, store them and manage them centrally.

According to Autodesk's Paul McRoberts, vice president of the infrastructure modeling product group, the tool is meant to enhance BIM workflows for infrastructure projects by linking desktops, mobile devices and the cloud to Autodesk Civil 3-D design data as well as to other project geospatial data, including free map data from project partner and point clouds from many sources. The data incorporated in InfraWorks retains its native format.

"It gives a unified, in-context view of the real-world environment for the design," McRoberts says. By leveraging the computing power available in the cloud, the product also lets teams rapidly produce proposals by creating and aggregating project information, which can be delivered either as a quick or photo-realistic rendering all within the InfraWorks environment.

"I can see where they are going with this," says Jeff Lyons, who became an early adopter of the first iteration of InfraWorks a few years ago while working as the business unit leader of the AEC Solutions Group at Cole Engineering Group, Markham, Ontario. "They are bringing a lot more design aspects to the concept design. They are making it so the designers are doing more design in InfraWorks 360 Pro instead of in Civil 3-D."

New pricing applies. Users can purchase quarterly access for approximately $1,200 (varies by country) which includes 150 "cloud credits" to consume in cloud-based operations, such as rendering. More credits can be added or, if the service is no longer needed, the data can be extracted and the subscription dropped.

"They have a direction for the product beyond the infrastructure modeler and what it [can] do," says Lyons."This is a commitment that they are going to come up with pro-version tools [such as] analysis in the cloud. It is a message that this is going to continue to grow much more."