Ribbon networks for modeling navigable paths of autonomous agents in virtual environments

Peter Willemsen, Joseph K. Kearney, Hongling Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This paper presents the Environment Description Framework (EDF) for modeling complex networks of intersecting roads and pathways in virtual environments. EDF represents information about the layout of streets and sidewalks, the rules that govern behavior on roads and walkways, and the locations of agents with respect to navigable structures. The framework serves as the substrate on which behavior programs for autonomous vehicles and pedestrians are built. Pathways are modeled as ribbons in space. The ribbon structure provides a natural coordinate frame for defining the local geometry of navigable surfaces. EDF includes a powerful runtime interface supported by robust and efficient code for locating objects on the ribbon network, for mapping between Cartesian and ribbon coordinates, and for determining behavioral constraints imposed by the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-342
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Ken Atkinson for his help on the numerical methods employed in ribbon computations and Jim Cremer for his significant contributions to the Hank simulator and many valuable insights on behavior programming. They also wish to thank Sean Curtis, Joan Severson, Shayne Gelo, and Kate Kearney for creating their visual databases. This research was supported through US National Science Foundation Grants IIS-0428856, INT-9724746, EIA-0130864, and IIS-0002535.


  • Artificial, augmented, and virtual realities
  • Model development
  • Specialized application language
  • Virtual reality
  • Visual


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