Man-machine interface allowing the user of a virtual environment to simulate the action of walking in a virtual world while sensing the topography of this virtual world
Régis Poulin
Denis Laurendeau (Supervisor)
Clément Gosselin (Co-supervisor)
Problem: Researchers of the Robotics Laboratory (Director: Dr. Clément Gosselin, Department of Mechanical Engineering) and the Computer Vision and Systems Laboratory (Director: Dr. Denis Laurendeau, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) are currently developing a locomotion interface which will enable a user to walk within a virtual world as if he were moving around within a real world. This walking platform will be equipped with a network interface which will transmit the parameters of the walking motion of the user to a local Ethernet network. Thus, the virtual environment will receive the information concerning the position, orientation and speed of the user, while the contents of the virtual environment will be transmitted to the locomotion interface which can recreate the profile of the terrain for the user. The use of several such interfaces will enable the creation of realistic group scenarios involving several people working within virtual worlds.
Motivation: The architecture which has been adopted for the development of this interface differs significantly from the systems currently proposed in the literature, notably those systems which are based in omnidirectional moving treadmills. The proposed platform is composed of two parallel six degree-of-freedom mechanisms actuated by cables (one mechanism for each foot). Parallel mechanisms have several advantages including a high mechanical bandwidth and high precision control. The use of cables as actuators allows the weight of the system to be reduced, and makes the system less cumbersome.
Approach: First, the requirements which must be met by the walking platform with respect to its application as a locomotion interface must be studied so as to define the work required to recreate a realistic walking environment. Then, different approaches will be studied which allow the platform to be maintained in its optimal operating position, while ensuring that the user has the impression that he is walking on an infinite surface even though he is actually carrying out minimal movement. The third part of the project will involve participating, together with other researchers, in the design and development of a miniature prototype of the locomotion interface and designing and implementing the control algorithms for this interface.
Applications: Military applications in urban environments or applications in search and rescue operations are concrete examples of the possible applications for a walking platform with an interface network. Moreover, the locomotion interface could be used in readaptation applications since it offers therapists a perfectly controlled environment which they can use to plan walking exercises adapted to their patients.
Calendar: September 2003 - May 2005
Last modification: 2007/09/28 by rpoulin


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