Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What can driving on the Moon teach you about peripheral integration?

It's not everyday that you find yourself driving on the moon and feeling the bumps and hills as your lunar buggy jumps around. But that's just what attendees at the IEEE CASE conference in Toronto got to experience last week. Earlier in the conference, we ran workshops on mechatronics design, unmanned vehicle experiments, and haptics led by our engineers, Amin Abdossalami, Derry Crimble, and Paul Karam.

Quanser's Hexapod was on display along with QUARC and the Active Suspension System. We displayed how the Hexapod could be used as a six degree of freedom motion platform, simulated vehicle motion.

Personally, the Hexapod is my favorite - it has a large payload capacity (250 kg), can be used as a shake table or parallel robot, can connect to a regular power supply, and uses a simple USB cable for data transfer. In our setup, we had it tied through QUARC to a visualization of a lunar surface. Attendees could sit on the Hexapod, grab a joystick, and go for a joy ride. As the controller was running, we had the ability to toggle on and off the active suspension of the lunar buggy and occupants were able to feel the moon bumps much more.

The Active Suspension Experiment was also on display - along with a virtual version of the experiment. It showed how students could design controllers to dampen out vehicle vibration.

The glue to these different systems was QUARC. QUARC can bring together complex systems and pair them with peripherals like joysticks, motion tracking cameras, and haptic devices. It can also allow someone to create a virtual environment to interact with their controller.

After the conference, ten lucky attendees had a chance to experience the magic behind the scenes and tour Quanser's headquarters, taking advantage of our open invitation earlier this summer.

Video shot by another one of our talented engineers, Pasha Javid

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