Access and Feeds

Digital Twins: Reimagining the Physical World Through Simulations

By Dick Weisinger

Digital twins are virtual clones of some physical object or thing. The twin can be used in simulations to check the status of an object, to analyze it, and to see how the object might change or evolve under different physical conditions. The results of digital twin simulations can then be used to improve the system by introducing efficiencies and eliminating elements of the model which aren’t performing as desired.

Michael Kapteyn, PhD student at MIT, said that “I think this idea of maintaining a persistent set of computational models that are constantly being updated and evolved alongside a physical asset over its entire life cycle is really the essence of digital twins.”

The digital twin market is expected to increase from $3.1 billion in 2020 to $48.2 billion by 2026, according to Markets and Markets.

Jake Lydick, Founder and President of Eye-Bot Aerial Solutions, said that “you need to educate people on how they can leverage a digital twin or reality model, and why it is important to their bottom line by reducing the number of site visits, performing remote inspections, or collaborating on an issue. You show them it is accessible, safe, and secure, and then you take this information to the decision makers to reduce that reluctance to adopt.”

Sarah Hayes, outreach lead with the Digital Twin Program in London, said that “we see digital twins as a way of improving decision making. A city is effectively a system of systems – water, electricity, housing, schools, hospitals, prisons, natural environment – it all fits together. When you start to connect the datasets from these digital twins, you can build a bird’s eye view of a city, which gives you better information about the consequences of your decisions.”

Karen Willcox, director of the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, said that “ultimately, we would like to see the technology used in every engineering system. At that point, we can start thinking not just about how a digital twin might change the way we operate the system, but also how we design it in the first place.”

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