Extreme sport buffs and adventure enthusiasts may soon have a new ride they can try on for an adrenaline rush.
Researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (MPI) in Tübingen have teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing, Engineering and Automation to create a new application - a robot that simulates motion for virtual reality environments. Meet the CableRobot simulator.
The CableRobot simulator comprises a platform that is safely tucked inside a fiber roll cage, which is made of lightweight carbon. The platform can seat a human who can be buckled-in sans or with a VR headset at their disposal.
The platform is operated by several actuators which work parallel with each other. A system of cables regulates these actuators. The robotic system was displayed from Sept. 16 to Sept. 18 at the Driving Simulation Conference and Exhibition and its application has been limited to industrial purposes so far.
The fiber roll cage in the system is suspended by eight cables in a 16.4 feet by 16.4 feet by 26.2 feet area. Each of the cables is suspended from each corner in the space and is powered by a robust motor.
In totality, the eight motors account for 473 metric horsepower. Each motor unit is capable of a vertical raising power of a maximum 75 kilograms (165.347 pounds) per second. The vertical lifting power enables the motors to exercise accurate precision control, rolling motions which use the complete space, performing giant or understated movements which a passenger may not realize. MPI's CableRobot also has a wireless VR system on board.
The question piquing one's mind is how this robotic system is better over other existent motion simulation system. What gives the robotic cage system an advantage is its cables as they enable the platform to be scaled down or up to pretty much any space size.
The CableRobot, per researchers, can be deployed for a slew of applications. For instance, the space is massive enough to imbibe cockpit training equipment and, therefore, can be used for flight training and simulation purposes.
The project's researchers also see potential for the CableRobot in the field of neurological research.
"This simulator offers us entirely new possibilities for studying motion perception with possible applications in neurological research into balance disorders," noted Max Planck Institute's Heinrich Bülthoff, the project's lead researcher.
Check out the robot in action in the video below.