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Interest is increasing in virtual world databases that can maintain a high degree of fidelity with respect to the actual three-dimensional environment. Compiling these spatial databases requires integrating information from a variety of sources, including digital map data, remotely sensed imagery, detailed line drawings, and ground-based photography. One factor that currently limits development of such systems is the lack of terrain and environmental data at the level of detail required for ground-based simulations. The authors address two important issues in automating the construction of large scale virtual worlds: the process by which various sources of spatial data can be brought together into a common representation framework and how this data can be automatically transformed into an efficient representation of the underlying virtual world suitable for graphical presentation. Key areas in the system architecture for virtual world construction include automated cartographic feature extraction, triangulated irregular network (TIN) generation, and road correction. The authors describe various terrain models and TIN construction techniques, while discussing TIN generation in some existing digital elevation models. They also illustrate transportation network integration, explaining how road network polygons are combined with corresponding bare-earth TINs. They discuss how to avoid simulator overload and how to update source material with new information extracted from imagery. And they present virtual world construction results from simulation databases.

M. F. Polis, S. J. Gifford and D. M. McKeown Jr., "Automating the Construction of Large-Scale Virtual Worlds," in Computer, vol. 28, no. , pp. 57-65, 1995.
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