Theoretical and Practical Integration of a Parallel Mechanism Driven by Cables in 3D with its Control Serving as a Locomotion Interface for a User Moving Naturally Within a Virtual Environment
Martin Otis
Denis Laurendeau (Supervisor)
Clément Gosselin (Co-supervisor)
Problem: This research work will demonstrate a new prototype in the form of a miniature model of an innovative locomotion system for a user moving within a virtual reality environment as if he were moving within a real environment.
Motivation: In general, walking and movement are very important activities which are considered to be part of natural daily behaviour. Walking is a fundamental requirement for navigating in space. Since the most intuitive manner of movement in a real world involves using our feet, maintaining this capacity for movement within a virtual world on a large scale is of great interest for several applications. However, the dynamics associated with natural walking are not always maintained. The movements of the user are usually restrained by several limited sensors and by the small workspace available in the real world.
Approach: This research work will enable the integration of applications and theory developed previously for the development of the said locomotion interface (LI). The first step involves the validation, in a plane, of the control in a virtual environment (VE) with a possible interference between the cables. The second step of the project will involve collaborating with other researchers in order to develop and design a miniature prototype of the interface with simultaneous use of two platforms (robot end effector) as feet haptics devices.
Challenges: The LI must react in real time so that the user has the impression of evolving in an infinite environment without additional efforts which could arise from the inertia of the cable mechanism. The design of the system will be achieved in such a way that the actions of the user in the VE will be as realistic as possible without the user having to adjust to the interface (without cognitive demand). Therefore, using an operating system in real time will be necessary. MatLAB, Opal-RT and RT-LAB are three tools which will be used for the modeling and control of the LI. The system proposed in this project is a parallel mechanism driven by cables which link two haptics devices for the feet to actuators (motors). Also included is a safety tether attached to the center of mass of the user to maintain his equilibrium and ensure that the washout algorithm functions properly.
Applications: There are numerous applications for locomotion interfaces, which can be found in military training and rehabilitation facilities. Other possible applications are in education, entertainment and exercise facilities (arcades) as well as in psychophysical research.
Calendar: 2005-2008
Last modification: 2005/06/28 by motis


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