Tübingen, 28.09.2015. The new cable robot of the department for Human Perception, Cognition and Action of Heinrich Bülthoff at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (MPI) was inaugurated in the course of the Driving Simulation Conference & Exhibition (DSC 2015). It will function as a second motion simulator next to the well known CyberMotion Simulator in the Cyberneum. Through technical innovations this robot is now able to transport people. It is suspended on cables and sets new standards for motion simulation. This prototype will be used in the perception and cognition research.
For the first time in Germany, the Driving Simulation Conference & Exhibition (DSC2015) is one of the most important conferences in the area of driving simulation in Europe. It attracts professionals from industry and commercial organizations as well as research and academic environments. Paolo Pretto, group leader at the MPI for Biological Cybernetics, organized the conference in cooperation with Renault and Art et Métiers ParisTech. It is sponsored by Optis. Over 200 participants and 60 exhibitors took part in this year’s conference.
The cable robot
The robot is suspended on eight cables – each cable is driven by a powerful motor. In total, these motors hold the power of remarkable 473 PS. The strained simulator cabin consists of carbon fiber rods, which were made especially for this purpose. They can be arbitrarily controlled to either launch the cabin into a wild roller coaster ride using the entire space of 5 x 8 x 5 m³, or perform movements that cannot even be noticed by the passenger.
Philipp Miermeister is working in the research group for cable robotics of Associate Professor Andreas Pott at the Fraunhofer IPA. He has helped to shape the design and implementation of the simulator with a lot of expertise in the two-year collaboration of the two institutions. The scientists succeeded in a decisive advancement of technology: For the first time, a robot suspended on cables can also transport people and thus sets new standards for acceleration, motion and payload in motion simulation. The scientists themselves wrote the software that controls the movements of the robot. The entire safety technology – the hardware as well as the software – were designed as such that the simulator cannot crash even if there have been programming errors. Through the complicated cable construction, the robot can move to any point in space and thus movement – like a car drive – can be simulated realistically.
Its large workspace and dynamic capabilities make the simulator suitable for a wide spectrum of VR (virtual reality) applications, including driving/flight simulation as well as investigation of basic perception processes in humans. “This simulator offers us entirely new possibilities for studying motion perception with possible applications in neurological research into balance disorders,” says Professor Bülthoff, who is a long-time perception researcher.
Stephanie Bertenbreiter/Christina Bornschein (Public Relations)
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- The new cable robot of the department for Human Perception, Cognition and Action of Heinrich Bülthoff at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. Picture (C): Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen