Swept path analysis
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Swept Path Analysis is the calculation and analysis of the movement and path of different parts of a vehicle when that vehicle is undertaking a turning maneuver. At a basic level this includes calculating the path taken by each wheel during the turn and also calculating the space needed by the vehicle body during the turn. Initially this form of calculation was carried out by hand, but in recent years it has been computerized.
Swept path analysis has a variety of uses.
For designers and developers of new vehicle types it provides a range of data about how that vehicle will perform without having to resort to building a prototype. The vehicle's intended parameters can be input into the program which will then calculate exactly how that vehicle will perform under a turn situation.
Most standard vehicles have swept path templates. These templates can be placed on top of a design to check road suitability for specific vehicles. (not as accurate as fully computerized solutions)
Planners, architects and engineers can also benefit from such a program as it can provide a means to assess various driving conditions at a given site location, such as whether or not a particular vehicle is able to safely (or actually) negotiate a street corner, parking lot entrance or other traffic feature where room to maneuver is limited.
The flexibility of the program also provides the calculation of unusual loads on wheeled transport; for example the transportation of large items (such as wind-farm turbine blades, ship's hulls, aircraft wings or other large objects).
There is also software available which is specially used for airside planning, design and operations. This type of software includes comprehensive aircraft and passenger boarding bridge libraries together with additional features such as servicing points for aircraft, jet blast and safe working area calculation, airport specific vehicles, animation capabilities and the ability to create unusual vehicles from scratch.
Linked to its Swept Path Analysis the program may also include parking tools. This module may integrate seamlessly with the swept path analysis program and provide a quick, powerful and intuitive tool for laying out car parks into which the intended vehicles' swept path can be integrated. Car parks can be laid out for domestic cars, or any vehicle. As such it can also be used to lay out the access and parking for either a major articulated lorry distribution centre, or even in the Airport Design module for aircraft parking and taxiing.
A swept path analysis program may also include a module for light rail (metro). This can be used to calculate platform clearances and passing clearances when two trains pass on a curved section of track.
Swept path analysis is also used for roundabouts. Lane width and exit widths can be tested and calculated. This is most important in case any specialized transportation (Unusual loads) vehicle will be using the roundabout. Due to the nature of roundabouts several specialized solutions are available and are usually recommended instead of road design solutions.
Other facilities include the ability to overlay a swept path drawing over an aerial photograph and the ability to model several vehicle movements concurrently.