Feel the need for speed? Try Ferrari sim robot

Researchers exploring how the human mind perceives motion are sitting people in a robot arm and setting them for fake F-1 driving.

Let's say I've got this huge industrial robotic arm in my garage collecting dust, and I'm wondering what to do with it. Well, it looks like I can use it to make a bad-ass Ferrari F-1 simulator. I mean, if scientists at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics can do it, why can't I?

CyberMotion Simulator
Going for a fake Ferrari ride. Video screenshot by Matt Hickey/CNET

The project, headed up by Paolo Rubuffo Giordano, is using just such a setup to research how the brain perceives motion. By running simulations and monitoring the players test subjects, the team can amass data on how we deal with movement along six axes.

The subject sits in a cabin on a robot arm about 6.5 feet off the ground and navigates a Ferrari F2007 around a virtual track. The arm itself is an industrial robot called a Robocoaster that's typically used in amusement park rides. Atop the arm, the scientists placed a common flight simulator platform called a CAE 5000.

What makes this ride experiment different, though, is the force feedback-enabled control scheme. The arm responds to the driver's turns, acceleration, and braking in real time to provide as near to a real race experience as possible without the speed seeker having to buy an actual Ferrari.

The complete device is called the CyberMotion Simulator, and, no, you can't buy one. The simulator's software runs a test track built by the team's engineers, and can be changed to mimic other vehicles, like helicopters and even ships. But don't expect to be able to run it with Grand Theft Auto quiet yet--even though that'd be amazing. I'd be happy to help them in that research.

(Via IEEE Spectrum)

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.


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